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Photo by Emily Previti

Shamokin from the top of South Market Street.

(Harrisburg) — People in one midstate community will have the choice to pursue a new city charter this spring.

The Northumberland County Board of Elections recently approved a ballot referendum for the May primary that will let voters in Shamokin decide if they want to let a panel study a home rule charter.

If people vote yes, it will be the first step in a lengthy process of adopting home rule, which basically allows a municipality to write its own constitution.

Some city officials say home rule is the best option for the municipality to exit state oversight of its distressed finances.

Rick Schuettler, executive director of the Pennsylvania Municipal League, said there are several areas to explore with home rule.

“Sometimes taxing options and increases–you know, you’re not bound by the levels that are prescribed in the various codes. But we’ve seen other areas–procurement, sometimes in ethics,” he said. 

Schuettler added the point of home rule is self-governance.

“You can put some things in place that maybe make sense for you that you think will make for a better community and ultimately a better quality of life for your residents,” Schuettler said. 

A total of 83 municipalities across Pennsylvania have adopted home rule charters.

Carlisle, Cumberland County is the most recent in the midstate to do so, in 2015.