The General Assembly shall provide by general law for local government within the Commonwealth. Such general law shall be uniform as to all classes of local government regarding procedural matters.
Municipalities shall have the right and power to frame and adopt home rule charters. Adoption, amendment or repeal of a home rule charter shall be by referendum. The General Assembly shall provide the procedure by which a home rule charter may be framed and its adoption, amendment or repeal presented to these electors. If the General Assembly does not so provide, a home rule charter or a procedure for framing and presenting a home rule charter may be presented to the electors by initiative or by the governing body of the municipality. A municipality which has a home rule charter may exercise any power or perform any function not denied by this Constitution, by its home rule charter or by the General Assembly at any time.
Municipalities shall have the right and power to adopt optional forms of government as provided by law. The General Assembly shall provide optional forms of government for all municipalities. An optional form of government shall be presented to the electors by initiative, by the governing body of the municipality, or by the General Assembly. Adoption or repeal of an optional form of government shall be by referendum.
County officers shall consist of commissioners, controllers or auditors, district attorneys, public defenders, treasurers, sheriffs, registers of wills, recorders of deeds, prothonotaries, clerks of the courts, and such others as may from time to time be provided by law. County officers, except for public defenders who shall be appointed as shall be provided by law, shall be elected at the municipal elections and shall hold their offices for the term of four years, beginning on the first Monday of January next after their election, and until their successors shall be duly qualified; all vacancies shall be filled in such a manner as may be provided by law. County officers shall be paid only by salary as provided by law for services performed for the county or any other governmental unit. Fees incidental to the conduct of any county office shall be payable directly to the county or the Commonwealth, or as otherwise provided by law. Three county commissioners shall be elected in each county. In the election of these officers each qualified elector shall vote for no more than two persons, and the three persons receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected. Provisions for county government in this section shall apply to every county except a county which has adopted a home rule charter or an optional form of government. One of the optional forms of county government provided by law shall include the provisions of this section.
A municipality by act of its governing body may, or upon being required by initiative and referendum in the area affected shall, cooperate or agree in the exercise of any function, power or responsibility with, or delegate or transfer any function, power or responsibility to, one or more other governmental units including other municipalities or districts, the Federal government, any other state or its governmental units, or any newly created governmental unit.
The General Assembly shall provide for the establishment and dissolution of government of areas involving two or more municipalities or parts thereof.
The General Assembly may grant powers to area governments or to municipalities within a given geographical area in which there exists intergovernmental cooperation or area government and designate the classes of municipalities subject to such legislation.
Consolidation, Merger or Boundary Change
Uniform Legislation. -- The General Assembly shall, within two years following the adoption of this article, enact uniform legislation establishing the procedure for consolidation, merger or change of the boundaries of municipalities. Initiative. -- The electors of any municipality shall have the right, by initiative and referendum, to consolidate, merge and change boundaries by a majority vote of those voting thereon in each municipality, without the approval of any governing body. Study. -- The General Assembly shall designate an agency of the Commonwealth to study consolidation, merger and boundary changes, advise municipalities on all problems which might be connected therewith, and initiate local referendum. Legislative Power. -- Nothing herein shall prohibit or prevent the General Assembly from providing additional methods for consolidation, merger or change of boundaries.
Appropriation for Public Purposes
The General Assembly shall not authorize any municipality or incorporated district to become a stockholder in any company, association or corporation, or to obtain or appropriate money for, or to loan its credit to, any corporation, association, institution or individual. The General Assembly may provide standards by which municipalities or school districts may give financial assistance or lease property to public service, industrial or commercial enterprises if it shall find that such assistance or leasing is necessary to the health, safety or welfare of the Commonwealth or any municipality or school district. Existing authority of any municipality or incorporated district to obtain or appropriate money for, or to loan its credit to, any corporation, association, institution or individual, is preserved.
Local Government Debt
Subject only to the restrictions imposed by this section, the General Assembly shall prescribe the debt limits of all units of local government including municipalities and school districts. For such purposes, the debt limit base shall be a percentage of the total revenue, as defined by the General Assembly, of the unit of local government computed over a specific period immediately preceding the year of borrowing. The debt limit to be prescribed in every such case shall exclude all indebtedness (1) for any project to the extent that it is self-liquidating or self-supporting or which has heretofore been defined as self-liquidating or self-supporting, or (2) which has been approved by referendum held in such manner as shall be provided by law. The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to the City or County of Philadelphia. Any unit of local government, including municipalities and school districts, incurring any indebtedness, shall at or before the time of so doing adopt a covenant, which shall be binding upon it so long as any such indebtedness shall remain unpaid, to make payments out of its sinking fund or any other of its revenues or funds at such time and in such annual amounts specified in such covenant as shall be sufficient for the payment of the interest thereon and the principal thereof when due.
Within the year following that in which the Federal decennial census is officially reported as required by Federal law, and at such other times as the governing body of any municipality shall deem necessary, each municipality having a governing body not entirely elected at large shall be reapportioned, by its governing body or as shall otherwise be provided by uniform law, into districts which shall be composed of compact and contiguous territory as nearly equal in population as practicable, for the purpose of describing the districts for those not elected at large.
The debt of the City of Philadelphia may be increased in such amount that the total debt of said city shall not exceed thirteen and one-half percent of the average of the annual assessed valuations of the taxable realty therein, during the ten years immediately preceding the year in which such increase is made, but said city shall not increase its indebtedness to an amount exceeding three percent upon such average assessed valuation of realty, without the consent of the electors thereof at a public election held in such manner as shall be provided by law. In ascertaining the debt-incurring capacity of the City of Philadelphia at any time, there shall be deducted from the debt of said city so much of such debt as shall have been incurred, or is about to be incurred, and the proceeds thereof expended, or about to be expended, upon any public improvement, or in construction, purchase or condemnation of any public utility, or part thereof, or facility therefor, if such public improvement or public utility, or part thereof, or facility therefor, whether separately, or in connection with any other public improvement or public utility, or part thereof, or facility therefor, may reasonably be expected to yield revenue in excess of operating expenses sufficient to pay the interest and sinking fund charges thereon. The method of determining such amount, so to be deducted, shall be as now prescribed, or which may hereafter be prescribed by law. In incurring indebtedness for any purpose the City of Philadelphia may issue its obligations maturing not later than fifty years from the date thereof, with provision for a sinking fund to be in equal or graded annual or other periodical installments. Where any indebtedness shall be or shall have been incurred by said City of Philadelphia for the purpose of the construction or improvement of public works or utilities of any character, from which income or revenue is to be derived by said city, or for the reclamation of land to be used in the construction of wharves or docks owned or to be owned by said city, such obligations may be in an amount sufficient to provide for, and may include the amount of the interest and sinking fund charges accruing and which may accrue thereon throughout the period of construction, and until the expiration of one year after the completion of the work for which said indebtedness shall have been incurred. No debt shall be incurred by, or on behalf of, the County of Philadelphia.
Abolition of County Offices in Philadelphia
(a) In Philadelphia all county offices are hereby abolished, and the city shall henceforth perform all functions of county government within its area through officers selected in such manner as may be provided by law.
(b) Local and special laws, regulating the affairs of the City of Philadelphia and creating offices or prescribing the powers and duties of officers of the City of Philadelphia, shall be valid notwithstanding the provisions of section thirty-two of Article III of this Constitution.
(c) All laws applicable to the County of Philadelphia shall apply to the City of Philadelphia.
(d) The City of Philadelphia shall have, assume and take over all powers, property, obligations and indebtedness of the County of Philadelphia.
(e) The provisions of section two of this article shall apply with full force and effect to the functions of the county government hereafter to be performed by the city government.
(f) Upon adoption of this amendment all county officers shall become officers of the City of Philadelphia, and until the General Assembly shall otherwise provide, shall continue to perform their duties and be elected, appointed, compensated and organized in such manner as may be provided by the provisions of this Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth in effect at the time this amendment becomes effective, but such officers serving when this amendment becomes effective shall be permitted to complete their terms.
As used in this article, the following words shall have the following meanings:
"Municipality" means a county, city, borough, incorporated town, township or any similar general purpose unit of government which shall hereafter be created by the General Assembly.
"Initiative" means the filing with the applicable election officials at least ninety days prior to the next primary or general election of a petition containing a proposal for referendum signed by electors comprising five percent of the number of electors voting for the office of Governor in the last gubernatorial general election in each municipality or area affected. The applicable election official shall place the proposal on the ballot in a manner fairly representing the content of the petition for decision by referendum at said election. Initiative on a similar question shall not be submitted more than once in five years. No enabling law shall be required for initiative.
"Referendum" means approval of a question placed on the ballot, by initiative or otherwise, by a majority vote of the electors voting thereon.