In less than two weeks voters in Lackawanna County will be asked if they want to change the county’s entire form of government.
A simple “yes” or “no” response in the May 20 primaries could have historic implications for the people of Lackawanna County, but are voters clear on the monumental choice they have?
The signs are up all around Lackawanna County asking voters whether to keep the county’s form of government.
On the May 20 primary ballot, all voters in Lackawanna County, regardless of party affiliation will be asked this question:
REFERENDUM TO CHANGE THE FORM OF GOVERNMENT IN LACKAWANNA COUNTY:
“Shall the Executive Council Optional Plan of County Government, including recommendations pertaining to optional provisions contained in the report of the Lackawanna County Government Study Commission, dated February 17, 2014, as authorized by the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law, be adopted by Lackawanna County?”
A “yes” vote would do away with the three county commissioner form of government and install an executive council form of government.
A “no” vote would keep things the same.
However with the primary election two weeks away people we spoke with seem unsure of what’s being asked.
“I’m not familiar with what they’re doing or what`s proposed or anything, there`s not enough information,” said Charlie Fasciana from Jessup.
“Just the little bits I`ve been catching on TV about it,” said Tom Nelson from Olyphant. “I`m not really political guy because I don`t trust any politician.”
“I think it`s incredibly difficult to ask people to go into a voting place and make a decision in 30 seconds in what the future of the county`s going to look like,” said Chris Wade from Dickson City.
If the voters chose “yes”, the county would be run by a part-time seven member county council overseen by a full-time county executive beginning January 2016.
Lackawanna County would be split into seven voting districts with the city of Scranton divided into three of them.
Chuck Volpe, with Fix Lackawanna said the current form of government gives the majority commissioners too much power, while an executive council system has checks and balances.
“An executive cannot raise your taxes without approval of a council, an executive cannot spend one penny of taxpayer money without approval from the legislature, the majority of the legislature,” said Volpe.
However Democratic Majority Commissioner Jim Wansacz warns voters not to let past mistakes of former county leaders, such as Robert Cordaro and AJ Munchak, who were charged with corruption, cloud this current issue.
“One bad administration over 135 years does not set the tone, and they have paid the price. But corruption, change of government does not stop corruption,” said Wansacz.