Home rule charter changes on the ballot for Bethel Park voters
Bethel Park voters will consider several changes to the home rule charter when the head to the polls in the November general election.
Bethel Park Council agreed at the April 10 meeting to place four questions on the Nov. 7 ballot. Voters have to approve any changes to the home rule charter, and while changing Bethel Park’s de facto constitution is rare, these ballot questions are not expected to be particularly controversial.
If approved, the changes would give council more flexibility in scheduling the annual reorganization meeting, extend the deadlines for approving the capital and municipal budgets and extend the timeline for updating the comprehensive plan.
“These question concern more procedural aspects,” Councilman Jim McLean said.
McLean led the Home Rule Study Commission, which reviewed the home rule charter for about a year. In a report issued about 16 months ago, the panel recommended several changes, including the issues that voters will consider in November.
If voters approve the referendums, the interval to update the municipality’s comprehensive plan will be increased from five years to 10. Budget deadlines also would be extended under a proposed change. Currently, municipal officials have until July 1 each year to submit the capital fund budget to council and Sept. 1 to submit the general fund budget. The proposed change would move those deadlines to Aug. 30 for the capital budget and Sept. 30 for the general budget.
Another question involves changing the start time for the council organizational meeting from 8 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the first Monday in January.
Voters amended the home rule charter six times since Bethel Park became a home rule municipality in 1978. The last change was in 2015, when voters decided to change the chain of command in the police department. The police chief reports to the municipal manager instead of council members. In 2013, Voters also agreed to raise property taxes by enacting a dedicated fire tax to pay for the new fire station on Brightwood Road.
In other business, council hired Geoffrey Blasko as a new police officer. Council members praised members of the Civil Service Commission, who lead the several-months-long process to vet candidates for police officer positions.
Council changed the ordinance that governs door-to-door sales, forbidding any solicitation after 8 p.m.
Council awarded the contract for the Brightwood and South Park roads intersection improvements to Traffic Systems and Services of Crafton. The firm will be paid $264,506.21, which will be paid through the state Department of Transportation’s Automated Red Light Enforcement program.