#MuniCon in Berks

Dan Fink of York Counts tweeted this great story about the Berks County, PA experience in municipal consolidation. Apparently, the county’s planning office provides $25,000 to municipalities to help pay for merger studies. Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“We came up with this concept of developing a municipal merger program and paying for the study to help the municipal governments decide whether it was worthwhile or not,” said [Kenneth] Pick [Berks County community development director].

Three tiny boroughs have taken the county up on its offer.

They did the studies and merged with townships after their voters and the voters in the receiving townships approved.

  • Temple became part of Muhlenberg Township in 1999.
  • Wyomissing Hills became part of Wyomissing in 2002.
  • West Lawn became part of Spring Township in 2006.

Richard A. Gould, former mayor of West Lawn, was a huge advocate for municipal merging, running on a pro-merger platform and effectively eliminating his own position after he won.

Before the merger, Gould said, small-town politics weren’t working for West Lawn and its residents. Property taxes were 77 percent higher than Spring’s, even though West Lawn was completely surrounded by the township and already using many of its services, including police protection.

Yes — someone actually ran on a platform that was completely selfless, purely for the good of the municipality and its residents.

The Twitterverse has been abuzz today with the news of the unanimous passage of Senate Bill 1429, which would streamline voluntary municipal consolidation with a home rule option. Now the bill moves from the Senate to the House. Read more about this latest news on Team Pennsylvania’s website.

To follow the Twitter chatter on this topic, search for the hashtag #MuniCon and make sure you follow @YorkCountsDan, @LVIndependent, @mattzieger, and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, @renewlv.

About Beata Bujalska

Beata Bujalska is the former Campaign Coordinator for Renew Lehigh Valley. She currently lives in Panama, a place that fascinates her due to (among other reasons) its recent development boom.

Posted on October 1, 2010, in Municipal Government, Neighborhoods, Regions, Trends, Urbanism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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