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By RICK BOSTON
Staff Writer 

Newry Borough Reduces Number of Council Seats from 5 to 3

 


Newry borough has had trouble filling all five seats on its council, making it difficult to conduct borough business. With just three sitting council members and nobody seeking a seat in last May’s primary election, the borough has come to the realization that less is better.

With the difficulties the borough has had getting enough people interested in serving on council, borough officials petitioned the court for permission to reduce the number of council seats from five to three.

On Monday, July 15, Blair County Judge Wade Kagarise granted the request.

According to the 2017 census, Newry borough has 266 residents, 166 of whom are registered to vote. The state borough code allows the number of council seats to be reduced if a borough has fewer than 3,000 residents.

Borough Councilman Rich Giarth said it has been an ongoing issue trying to fill council seats.

“We have petitioned the courts at least three times in the last 10 years to appoint someone to fill a vacant seat,” he said.

Having to ask the courts to fill vacancies on council costs the borough time and money, Giarth said.

“It is hard to find people who want to serve,” he said. “So we figured the best solution was to reduce the number of seats.”

Giarth said having two vacant seats has not hindered council business so far.

“The three of us who are on council make a pretty good effort to get to the meetings,” he said.

Newry is the smallest borough in Blair County, covering just three square miles, but Giarth said the borough is strong.

“We are a small borough and run on a tight budget but we hold it together,” he said.

The borough has its own sewer system but is hooked into Freedom Township for water service.

Freedom Township police provide protection to the borough through an intermunicipal agreement.

 

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