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Williamsport considers town manager system

January 16, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

WILLIAMSPORT - Williamsport's Town Council is discussing whether to shift to a town manager system of government, which would take power away from the mayor and give the council greater input in hiring and firing matters.

The idea came up at a Town Council meeting Monday night when Town Councilman Earle R. Pereschuk said he would like the town to require a vote before any town employee may be fired.

"Some of the employees are afraid if they're going to have their jobs the next day," Pereschuk said.

Town attorney Edward Kuczynski said that change would require an amendment to the town's charter, an expensive process that involves publishing notice of the proposed amendment, holding a public hearing and allowing residents to vote on it.

Under the current charter, the authority to hire and fire regular employees lies entirely with the mayor, while department heads are chosen by the mayor but must be confirmed by the council, Kuczynski said. The clerk/treasurer may not be removed without a vote of the five council members, he said.

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This general arrangement is a basic characteristic of the mayor-council form of government, while in a council-manager system, administrative powers are dispersed to the council and carried out by a town manager, and the mayor serves as more of a figurehead, Kuczynski said.

"You're changing the entire complexion of how the town of Williamsport operates," he said.

Williamsport Mayor James G. McCleaf II said he supported the idea.

"I think the town needs to go to a town manager system, myself," he said, adding that the change is probably long overdue.

The council agreed to discuss the idea further at its next work session, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4.

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