New Rules Regarding Resignations of Elected Officials in Second Class Townships

Pennsylvania Act 16 of 2017, signed into law by the Governor on July 7, 2017, and effective September 5, 2017, has amended the manner in which vacancies, resulting from the resignation of a supervisor, tax collector, or auditor, are handled by townships under the Second Class Township Code (“the Code”).

Prior to Act 16, the Code provided no guidance with regard to resignations by elected officials. Under the new law, a vacancy in the office of supervisor, tax collector, or auditor of a Second Class Township is not considered created until: (i) the individual’s resignation is accepted by a majority vote of the board of supervisors at a public meeting or (ii) the effective date of the tendered resignation, whichever is later. If the board of supervisors does not act on the resignation, the resignation will be deemed to be accepted forty five (45) days after the resignation has been tendered, unless the resignation has been withdrawn in writing prior to acceptance. The procedure for filling such vacancies, however, has remained the same.

This amendment adds an additional requirement to resignations by elected officials as it now requires the board of supervisors to approve a resignation, or wait 45 days from the date a resignation was tendered, in order to create and fill a vacancy. This could allow for a resignation to be withdrawn after the effective date of a resignation, but before it is approved, or deemed approved, by a board of supervisors.

Say, for example, Supervisor Smith tenders his resignation, effective September 20, 2017, but the board of supervisors does not meet again until October 18, 2017. On October 17, 2017, Supervisor Smith submits a letter to his township rescinding his resignation. Even though the effective date of his resignation has since passed, he may still withdraw his resignation because it has not been acted upon and approved by the board of supervisors.

Because this is a significant change to the process for resignations of elected officials in Second Class Townships within Pennsylvania, a Township Solicitor should be consulted when faced with this issue.

For further information on the impact of this law on municipalities around Pennsylvania, please contact Bill or 610-701-3271.

Bill is an associate in the municipal practice group at Lamb McErlane PC, where he focuses on municipal law and election law. He specifically concentrates on municipal, land use, property tax, administrative, finance, and election law matters.