Categories Op/Ed

Editorial: State Should Give Townships Flexibility in Meeting Dates


Here we go again. Once again, all the townships in the area are holding their reorganization meetings on the same night: Monday, Jan. 7. Why are they doing it? Because state law requires them to. No matter when they normally hold their meetings, townships need to hold their reorganization meetings on the first Monday in January, unless that day is a legal holiday, in which case the meeting is supposed to be held the following day.

What’s wrong with this? Townships usually share solicitors and engineers with neighboring townships — it’s highly specialized work, and few townships have enough of that work to keep a lawyer or engineer on as a full-time employee.

So if township supervisors have questions for a lawyer or an engineer, they’ll likely have to ask them of someone filling in who isn’t as familiar with the township’s issues as the person who’s there regularly. Few townships have their own police forces these days; far more typical is to be part of a regional police force with other municipalities. If the police chief normally attends the meetings of all the townships the agency serves, that won’t be possible when they’re all meeting at the same time.

What’s more, there’s no penalty listed instate law for townships that don’t meet this mandate. Some years ago, Conoy Township decided not to meet on the day required by law because a blizzard made road travel hazardous. What did the state do? Nothing.

The law mandating this meeting date was most likely written with the best of intentions. There has to be some time when the first meeting of the year is held. But why not allow townships to buy legal notices to advertise their first meeting of the year on whatever day they wish, like they do with all other meetings? The meeting date could default to the first Monday in January if the township neglects to advertise a different day. But the state ought to allow townships this flexibility.

The preceding editorial is the opinion of The Elizabethtown Advocate. Other opinions on this page are those of individual contributors. The Advocate aims to give its readers a wide variety of opinions.

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