Clearfield / Lawrence Consolidation Background
About the Pennsylvania Economy League
The PEL is Pennsylvania’s leading independent, nonprofit, public policy research and development organization for almost 80 years. It provides independent research and analysis on emerging issues to stimulate public and private action, making Pennsylvania a better place to live, work, and do business.
The goal of the PEL is to create a knowledgeable corporate and civic community that will help ensure the economic competitiveness of the Commonwealth and its regions.
Clearfield and Lawrence received a state EIP grant to study consolidating under Home Rule form of government. A Joint Committee was appointed from both municipalities to make recommendations to:
- Develop joint agreement for consolidated municipality
- Draft Home Rule Charter
The Joint Committee began meeting with PEL in spring 2015 for educational purposes. The Committee received basic information on various issues that must be decided as part of the process. The PEL conducted an initial review on feasibility of consolidation.
Consolidating is not a merger. Under consolidation, both municipalities cease to exist and become a new municipality. Under a merger, one municipality remains and absorbs the other.
The two-pronged process required for approval of Joint Agreement and Home Rule Charter are:
- Agreement by governing bodies of both municipalities
- Affirmative voter referendum in each municipality
The role of the PEL is to give a complete EIP report including financial/management review of each municipality. The EIP will inform a consolidation recommendation. The PEL will also act as a facilitator for the Joint Committee and provide analysis/guidance on policy and financial issues concerning consolidation.
The Joint Committee handles issues that include but are not limited to:
- Size, terms and qualifications for governing body
- Representation at large, by district or combination
- Financial arrangements, budget schedule and format
- Manager appointment, qualifications, removal, etc.
- Transition plan for consolidated municipality
- Name of consolidated municipality
Working assumption is no reduction of full-time staff from either municipality.
- Shared Identity: Similar populations, budgets, tax bases, and public services
- Better Services: Provides efficiencies and service delivery improvements
- Tax Relief: Potential for significant real estate tax reductions
- Local Control: Increases citizen representation and participation
- Additional Aid: Potential for increased federal/state funds as larger community
- Sustainable Community: Proactive approach to remaining a vibrant, financially
In one of our very early meetings, the revelation that came to me was I've seen this happen to other communities that wouldn't do it. My statement to the Committee early in the beginning was either we can do this on our terms or we can have somebody come in from the outside and swallow their terms." Jeff Williams, Clearfield Municipal Authority