The city of Lancaster has confirmed the times and dates for its community meetings on home rule, and there are now five of them, rather than the four previously proposed.
The purpose of the meetings is twofold: To inform residents about home rule and the process that could lead to it, and to give candidates seeking to join a home rule commission an opportunity to collect some of the 200 signatures they need to be on the ballot.
All the meetings will start at 6 p.m. The dates and locations are as follows:
- Tuesday, Feb. 21, Ebenezer Baptist Church, 701 N. Lime St.
- Thursday, Feb. 23, Bethel AME Church, 512 E Strawberry St.
- Monday, Feb. 27, Lancaster Theological Seminary Library, 555 W. James St.
- Wednesday, March 1, Lafayette Elementary, 1000 Fremont St.
- Thursday, March 2, Calvary Baptist Church, 530 Milton Road
In her State of the City address, Mayor Danene Sorace said home rule could ease the financial pressure Lancaster will face after the American Rescue Plan Act funds it is using to fill its budget deficit expire at the end of 2024. That’s because the city would be able to raise its earned income tax rate — which is capped under the city’s existing governance framework — rather than having to rely exclusively on property tax increases.
Earlier this month, City Council approved putting a referendum on the May 16 primary ballot asking voters to authorize a nine-member home rule study commission. Candidates for the commission will be on the ballot as well.
If approved, the commission would first study the home rule option. If it concludes that home rule makes sense, it would draft a home rule charter which would be put before voters for ratification in the November 2024 election, according to the city’s estimated timeline.
As LNP reports, candidates for the home rule commission must file “nomination papers” with the Lancaster County Board of Elections to appear on the ballot, rather than “candidate petitions.” The paperwork is different because the commission is nonpartisan.
Candidates must also file a statement of financial interests, a candidate affidavit and a waiver of expense. For more information, and the required forms, visit the Candidate Information page on the county website.