The Luzerne County Courthouse.

The public will get a chance to comment Tuesday on a proposed ordinance regarding the formation of a government study commission before Luzerne County Council votes whether to leave the decision up to voters in the May 16 primary election.

Council will hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m., at which county residents and property owners may comment on the proposed ordinance, which council voted to introduce on Jan. 10.

However, just four of the 11 council members voted to introduce the ordinance, proposed by Councilman Stephen J. Urban. It does not appear likely it will receive the six votes needed for adoption.

The ordinance would place a question on the primary ballot, asking voters if they want to form a seven-member commission to study the county’s existing form of government.

County voters would need to approve any changes the commission would recommend.

Two weeks ago, council members were divided over whether it would be better to form a commission to study county governance as a whole, or for council to propose amendments to specific areas of the county’s home rule charter that some see as flawed.

Council members are seriously discussing the latter option, in hopes of placing proposed charter amendments on the Nov. 7 election ballot, Councilman Carl Bienias III said last week.

County voters would need to approve charter amendments in a ballot referendum, just as they would need to approve the formation of a government study commission.

Proposed amendments

Discussion of proposed charter amendments is on the agenda for council’s Tuesday work session, which follows a 6 p.m. voting session.

Much of council’s recent discussion focuses on an amendment that would reduce the size of council to either five or seven members, Vice Chairman John Lombardo said Sunday.

Several council members believe an 11-member council is too large and unwieldy, Lombardo said.

“It gets to be a little out of control with the 11 of us,” Bienias said.

Council is waiting for the office of law to issue an opinion on whether changing the number of council members can be done via charter amendment, Lombardo and Bienias said.

Another proposed charter amendment might call for changing how the chairperson of the county election board is selected, Lombardo said.

Some want to see council appoint one of its own members as election board chair, to join four citizens — two Republicans and two Democrats — also appointed by council, he said.

Since home rule took effect in 2012, the election board chair has been appointed by majority vote of the other four board members.

Tuesday’s public hearing, voting session and work session will be held at the county courthouse on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

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