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Politics

Voters veto charter change

| Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2003

Allegheny County voters narrowly rejected amending the Home Rule Charter to allow County Council members to seek another elective office without resigning, unofficial results show.

With 1,304 of 1,307 precincts reporting, almost 52 percent of voters cast ballots against the change. Voters also rejected the proposed change in May.

The bill's sponsor, County Councilman Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, argued the home rule charter should treat all elected officials the same.

Council earlier lost two members who sought other offices. Former Councilman James Simms lost his bid to seek the Democratic nomination for Allegheny County Controller and Democrat Mike Crossey lost his bid for state House last year.

The home rule amendment was joined on the ballot by referendums in Hampton, Robinson, O'Hara and Lincoln.

Hampton residents voted overwhelmingly against changing the township's charter to indicate the community's tax limits are based on the Home Rule Act, rather than the Second Class Township Code. Similar changes have passed in Peters and Mt. Lebanon. About 61 percent of voters rejected the change.

The defeat means Hampton may be limited in its flexibility to levy local taxes, because of possible changes in the state tax code, officials said.

In Robinson, about 60 percent of voters authorized the use of tax money to help fund a new township library. Robinson is now served weekly by a bookmobile.

About 75 percent of O'Hara voters approved a home rule charter amendment that reduces the number of signatures required on referendum petitions. Petition backers now will need signatures equal to at least 10 percent of the voters in the most recent gubernatorial election. The requirement was signatures from 25 percent of voters.

In Lincoln, a proposal to borrow $250,000 for a new municipal building failed, 63 percent to 37 percent.

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