The Borough of Carlisle is approximately five square miles and has a population of approximately 18,500. Carlisle is incorporated as a Borough and therefore operates according to the Borough Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Since 1921 the governing body of the Borough of Carlisle has been an elected Borough Council, an elected Mayor, and an appointed Borough Manager. This is known as the Council/Manager form of government.
Borough Council is a legislative body consisting of seven Council members elected at large for four-year overlapping terms. The Mayor is also elected at large for a four-year term. Council and the Mayor are assisted by an appointed Borough Manager who acts as chief administrator for the Borough and, as such, is responsible for carrying out Borough policies and suggesting programs. The Borough Manager is appointed by Council and operates under the direction and official actions of the entire Council. Council is also assisted by the Borough Solicitor, Borough Secretary, and various appointed authorities, boards, and commissions. The responsibilities of these advisory agencies are summarized on this web site.
Council meetings are open to the public and are usually held at 7:00 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month. Meetings are subject to change and should be verified by contacting the Borough office. All Council meetings are held at the Municipal Building, 53 West South Street. A prepared agenda is provided, and citizens are encouraged to voice opinions and/or concerns.
In 1986, the Sunshine Act was passed by the General Assembly of Pennsylvania. This act requires any council, authority, board, or commission to hold all meetings and hearings “held for the purpose of deliberating agency business or taking official action,” open to the public so that the public can witness the due process of policy formulation and decision-making of the agencies. The Act also stipulates that citizens shall be notified of all meetings through publication of the place, date, and time of meeting in the local newspaper. The only exception to the public meeting requirement is if an “executive session” is called for. If an executive session is held, the reason for it and its agenda must be announced to the public prior to the meeting. Executive sessions may be used to discuss appointments; employment terms and conditions; performance evaluations or promotions; as well as sessions related to negotiation or arbitration of a collective bargaining agreement; to consider the purchase or lease of real property; to consult with the agency’s attorney or other professional advisor regarding information or strategy in connection with litigation on issues of expected complaints; or to discuss agency business which, if conducted in public, could lead to disclosure of information confidentially protected by law or information that would compromise an investigation.
Although Borough Council meets in executive session relatively often, it is rare that an Authority, Board and/or Commission (ABC) ever does so. Therefore, ABC members should be prepared to deal with the media at all of their meetings. It is quite common for ABC members to be quoted in the media about something they said during a meeting; and, anything a member says during a public session is open to the entire public record.
Pennsylvania State Public Officials Ethics Law
The state of Pennsylvania is of the opinion that public officials elected by the public or appointed by the governing body are acting in the good faith and for the general benefit of the public. Therefore, any public official who seeks personal financial gains through public office other than through lawful compensation, or any public official that misuses any confidential information learned through holding a public office is violating public trust. The Pennsylvania State Ethics Law is an act pertaining to conflicts of interest regarding public officials. The law prohibits public officials (including members of ABC’ s) and employees from engaging in particular activities that create conflicts of interest. It also sets standards of accountability and requires all candidates for public office, elected and certain appointed officials, to file financial disclosure statements.
The Borough provides public officials’ liability insurance coverage for all ABC’s authorized by the Borough. All citizens serving on authorities, boards, and commissions are expected to conduct themselves in the appropriate professional manner, observe customary social etiquette, and act in accordance with the law.