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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Residency Rule Does Apply To NorCo Boards

Northampton County's enabling document, or Constitution, is the Home Rule Charter. That document imposes no residency requirement for cabinet level officials or row officers. But it does mandate that appointees to authorities, boards and commissions, must be county residents. This provision presented a problem for Northampton County Executive John Stoffa, but County Executive John Brown should have no dilemma.

The problem for Stoffa arose with the seven-person Retirement Board. That's established under the Administrative Code to administer the retirement system, including pensions.

As originally drafted, the Administrative Code provided that the Retirement Board include the Directors of Administration and Finance. These two members of John Stoffa's cabinet, both of whom lived in Lehigh County, sat on that Board until somebody realized it conflicted with the Home Rule Charter requirement that all Board appointees must be County residents.

The fix was not to force them to move here. It was to replace these cabinet officials with three members of Council. The Exec gets two picks, including himself. Finally, there is an employee representative and a retiree.


Anonymous said...

You are right that the Home Rule Charter does not require a residency rule for serving as a cabinet member, but the Home Rule Charter does have a residency requirement for someone to sit on a County Authority or Board.
If you live in Lehigh county, and you are a member of the Executive's Staff, can you serve as a voting member (representing Northampton county)on the Joint Planning Commission or the Airport Authority?
Then again, I would think that the writers of our Charter didn't want people outside the County setting precedents, rules, etc. that effect the residents of the county. With that thinking, don't you think the same would apply to other individuals serving in Key positions in Northampton County.
Just something to think about.
By the comments on your blog, it looks like the people of Northampton County don't really give a hoot.

Ken Kraft said...

9:11. I agree with your logic and I believe that when they went home rule they never dreamed you would get cabinet members from out of the state

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:11, The residency requirement, in my view, would only apply to boards and commissions established by the County for the County. But this is uncharted water for me.

Ken, I give you credit for sticking to your guns and do think much is to be said for your arguments for residency.