New Castle News

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March 2, 2013

Officials consider reforming city government

NEW CASTLE — New Castle officials are exploring the possibility of reforming the city’s government under a home rule charter.

If New Castle were to become a home rule city, it would be one way for the city to exit Act 47.

A key reason is that home rule would give the city more control over its tax structure. And right now, state law places limits on tax rates, specifically the property and wage taxes, which are the highest revenue producers for the city.

Adoption of a home rule charter would ultimately be up to the voters to decide, but a committee made up of city officials will determine whether the idea is worth pursuing.

Formation of the committee is one of the directives in New Castle’s Act 47 financial recovery plan. The directive requires the committee to study the benefits of home rule and produce a report stating the reasons for its decision by the second quarter of this year.

Serving on the committee are the mayor, two council members, the business administrator and solicitor.

The committee has the option to decide that the city pursue or not pursue home rule, according to Gordon Mann, a member of the city’s Act 47 recovery team.

Michael S. Foreman of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development discussed the home rule process at the committee’s first meeting Thursday.

The recovery plan specifically recommends the city explore the idea because it would give officials more control over its tax structure.

Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo said he has no preconceived notions on whether the city should have home rule.

“We should at least look at the options,” he said. “I’m open for discussion.”

But home rule would allow the city to make other government reforms as long as they aren’t prohibited by the Pennsylvania constitution or other laws.

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