Classification of Counties (16 P.S. § 210)

For the purposes of legislation and regulation of affairs, counties are divided into the following nine classes: The size of the county determines which county code will govern.

  1. First Class Counties have a population over 1.5 million.
  2. Second Class Counties have a population between 800,000 and 1.5 million.
  3. Second Class A Counties have a population between 500,000 and 800,000.
  4. Third Class Counties have a population between 225,000 and 500,000.
  5. Fourth Class Counties have a population between 150,000 and 225,000.
  6. Fifth Class Counties have a population between 95,000 and 150,000.
  7. Sixth Class Counties have a population between 45,000 and 95,000. Counties with a population of between 35,000 and 45,000 may elect to be a county of the sixth class by ordinance or resolution of the board of county commissioners.
  8. Seventh Class Counties have a population between 20,000 and 45,000.Also included are counties having a population between 35,000 and 45,000 which have not elected to be a county of the sixth class.
  9. Eighth class counties have a population of less than 20,000.

First Class County Code

Fixing Boundary Lines Between Two Counties (16 P.S. §§ 7151, 7154)

If the courts determine that the boundary between two counties must be designated, surveyed and marked, a commission of three surveyors must be appointed. Within two (2) months of the appointment of such a commission, the commission must meet and organize. The time and place of the commission's first meeting must be advertised in one (1) or more newspapers published in each county to give interested parties an opportunity to be heard. Advertising expenses will be paid jointly by the two affected counties.

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Publication of Annual Report (16 P.S. § 7373)

In January of every year, the county controller must make a report of all receipts and expenditures of the county for the preceding year along with a full statement of the financial conditions of the county. This report must be published once in such newspapers as the controller may direct. These advertising costs must be paid from the county treasury, but may not exceed fifteen hundred dollars ($1500) in any one year.

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Contracts and Bidding (16 P.S. § 7377)

Any contracts made by the county commissioners involving expenditures over one hundred dollars ($100) must be in writing. After these contracts are executed, they must be filed with the controller. No contract or payment exceeding three hundred dollars ($300) can be disbursed unless made with the lowest and best bidder after due notice is published by the controller. All bids must be received by the controller, under seal, and must be opened in his presence by the county commissioners.

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Contracts to Erect County Buildings (16 P.S. § 8322)

Whenever the county commissioners are authorized and required to build a courthouse, jail or other county building, the plans and specifications must be submitted to the judges of the court of common pleas of the proper county for their approval. Once approval is obtained, the commissioners must award the work by contract to the lowest and best bidder, after three (3) weeks' public notice in two (2) newspapers published in the county. These contracts are subject to the approval of the judges.

In any county where the county commissioners do not levy taxes for general county purposes, the construction plans must be approved by the body which does levy taxes rather than the court of common pleas.

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Sale of Real Estate by the County (16 P.S. § 8373)

Before the sale of any county real estate may be made, the court of common pleas must hold a hearing on such sale. Once the court sets a hearing date regarding the sale, notice must be given in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the county once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks. This requirement does not apply to cities of the first class.

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Unclaimed Property of a Deceased Person (16 P.S. § 8437)

All unclaimed property of a deceased person, held by the county morgue for over one year may be sold at public sale. An advertisement of the sale must be published in one (1) or more newspapers in the county once a week for three (3) weeks. At least six handbills must also be posted in the neighborhood of the morgue announcing the sale.

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Reducing the Time for Proposals for Rebuilding Bridges (16 P.S. § 9305)

In the event of the destruction by fire, flood or otherwise of a bridge on an important thoroughfare, the commissioners may reduce the time of advertisement for sealed bids, as well as reducing the time the specifications are open to inspection to two (2) weeks.

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Property and Contracts for County Departments of Health (16 P.S. § 12022)

The county commissioners may acquire real and personal property for the exercise of the powers and duties of the county department of health and may make contracts incident to the operation of the county department of health.

The making of contracts by a county department of health or a joint-county department of health is governed by the laws applying to each of the participating counties. When advertising for bids is required by the laws applicable to any participating county, the procedure for advertising within such county must be followed.

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Second Class County Code

Publication of Legal Notices (16 P.S. § 3110)

Notice, advertisement or publication required by the county code must be published in one (1) newspaper of general circulation printed in the county. But, if the matter in connection with the advertisement affects only a political subdivision, then the notice must be published in a newspaper printed in the political subdivision, if any, and if not, then in a newspaper circulating generally in the political subdivision. If the notice must be in more than one newspaper, then it must be published in at least one (1) newspaper of general circulation printed in the county, if there is one, or circulating in the county, if there is not one printed there.

When the required notice relates to any court proceeding or an election to increase indebtedness or the issue and sale of bonds to be paid by taxation, the notice is also to be published in the legal newspaper for the county, if one exists, unless a court orders otherwise. The following, however, are only to be published in newspapers of general circulation: ordinances, auditors' reports, controllers' reports, and advertisements inviting proposals for public contracts and for bids for materials and supplies.

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Ordinances and Resolutions (16 P.S. § 3508(a),(b),(b.1),&(c))

The board of commissioners is permitted to adopt resolutions and ordinances to carry out and regulate the affairs of the county. The board may also make and adopt ordinances, resolutions, rules and regulations regarding the use of county property. These ordinances, resolutions, rules and regulations must be published and adopted in the same manner as other resolutions and ordinances of the county.

All proposed ordinances, unless otherwise provided by law, must be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the county not more than sixty (60) days or less than seven (7) days before passage by the county commissioners. The advertisement must include either the full text of the proposed ordinance or the title and a summary prepared by the county solicitor setting forth all its provisions in reasonable detail with reference to where copies of the full proposed ordinance may be examined. If the full text is not included, a copy of the full ordinance must be supplied to the newspaper publishing the advertisement.

If substantial amendments to a proposed ordinance or resolution are enacted after it has been advertised, the commissioners must, within ten (10) days, readvertise a brief summary of the ordinance's provisions along with a summary of the amendments in one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the county.

It is not necessary to include maps, plans or drawings adopted as part of an ordinance. Instead, the commissioners may refer in the advertisement to the place where the maps, plans or drawings are on file and may be examined.

All resolutions, rules and regulations, unless otherwise provided by law, must be published at least once in one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the county. Resolutions, rules and regulations do not become effective until ten (10) days after their publication. In lieu of publishing the resolutions, rules and regulations in their entirety, the county commissioners may publish the title or a summary and the place where the full text, together with any accompanying maps, plans or drawings, are on file and may be examined.

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Examinations for the Police and Fire Departments (16 P.S. § 4509(a),(c))

Each civil service commission may make rules and regulations providing for the examination of applicants for positions in the police force or fire department or as a fire inspector and promotions therein. The rules and regulations must describe the minimum qualifications and passing grades.

Public notice of the time and place of every examination for such positions must be published once in at least one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the county at least two (2) weeks before each examination. The notice must also include information on the type of position to be filled. In addition, a copy of the notice must be posted in the office of the civil service commission or other public place.

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Publication of Auditor's Annual Report (16 P.S. § 4920)

At the end of each fiscal year, the controller must complete the audit, settlement and adjustment of the accounts of all county officers. Every May the controller must make a report to the court of common pleas of the county, of all receipts and expenditures of the county for the preceding year along with a full statement of the financial conditions of the county. A summary of this report must be published one time in such newspapers published in the county as the controller may direct. The aggregate cost of this advertising will be paid out of the county treasury and may not exceed four thousand dollars ($4,000) in any one year. Publication of Auditor's Annual Report (16 P.S. § 4920)

At the end of each fiscal year, the controller must complete the audit, settlement and adjustment of the accounts of all county officers. Every May the controller must make a report to the court of common pleas of the county, of all receipts and expenditures of the county for the preceding year along with a full statement of the financial conditions of the county. A summary of this report must be published one time in such newspapers published in the county as the controller may direct. The aggregate cost of this advertising will be paid out of the county treasury and may not exceed four thousand dollars ($4,000) in any one year.

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Annual Budget (16 P.S. § 4981(a))

Every year, the controller must prepare a proposed budget for all funds for the next fiscal year no later than the 15th of November. This proposed budget must be published or made available for public inspection at least 20 days before adoption. If the proposed budget has been advertised and is then revised so that overall estimated expenditures are increased by more then ten (10) percent, the revised budget cannot be adopted until it has be readvertised once. Final action cannot be taken on a proposed budget until at least ten (10) days after the public notice was published.

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Contracts (16 P.S. § 5001(a),(a.1),(b),(d))

Contracts or purchases over $10,000 must be in writing and issued to the lowest responsible bidder after notice has been advertised in at least one (1) newspaper of general circulation at least three (3) times at intervals of not less than three (3) days in a daily newspaper or once a week for two (2) successive weeks in a weekly newspaper. The first ad must be published not less than ten (10) days before the opening of bids.

The controller will accept the bids, which must be opened publicly at the time and place designated in the notice. If the bid openings are not held as advertised in the notice, they may be held at a later time following at least five (5) days published notice.

The following contracts or purchases over $10,000 do not require advertising or bidding:

  1. Contracts in the case of emergencies declared and stated by resolution of the commissioners.
  2. Contracts covering only maintenance, repair or replacements for the water, electric light or other public works of the county.
  3. Contracts for improvements, repairs and maintenance of any kind made by county employees. Although, construction materials for street improvements over $10,000 must be advertised.
  4. Contracts where particular patented products are desired.
  5. Contracts for policies of insurance or surety company bonds; public utility service; or contracts with another governmental entity.
  6. Contracts for personal or professional services.
  7. Contracts for tangible client services provided by nonprofit agencies on aging.
  8. Contracts involving the purchase of milk.

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Construction of Bridges (16 P.S. § 5773(a))

When there is a proposed bridge construction the court must set a date for a public hearing. Notice of the time, place and purpose of the hearing, as well as the location of the proposed bridges and approaches, must be advertised at least ten (10) days before the hearing in two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the county.

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Meeting of Viewers on an Application for a New Bridge (16 P.S. § 5792(a))

Viewers appointed by the court may meet regarding a proposed bridge after three (3) weeks public notice of the time and place of their meeting has appeared in at least one (1) newspaper published in the county nearest the location of the proposed bridge.

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Determining the Necessity of Bridges Donated to the County (16 P.S. § 5832)

Viewers that have been appointed by the court to determine the necessity of bridges donated to the county must immediately fix a time for their meeting. Notice of the meeting must be personally given to the county commissioners and by publication in two (2) newspapers published in the county once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks to all others. The last publication may not be less than ten (10) days before the meeting. If the bridge crosses the boundary between two (2) counties, viewers must be appointed and notice of their meeting given in both counties.

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Rules for the Protection of Roads (16 P.S. § 5953(a))

The board of commissioners may adopt rules to prevent the unreasonable wear and destruction of county roads. Before these rules become effective, they must be published once a week for three (3) weeks in two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the county.

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Third to Eight Class County Code

Applicability (16 P.S. § 102)

Except incidentally, this chapter applies only to counties of the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth classes (see section 1.2 below).

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Publication of Legal Notices (16 P.S. § 110)

When the county code requires notice, advertisement or publication, such notice must be published in one (1) newspaper of general circulation printed in the county. If the matter in connection with the advertisement affects only a political subdivision, the notice must be published in a newspaper printed in the political subdivision, if there is one, and if not, then in a newspaper circulating generally in the political subdivision.

When the required notice relates to any court proceeding, an election to increase indebtedness or the issue and sale of bonds to be paid by taxation, the notice must also be published in the legal newspaper for the county, if one exists, unless a court order says otherwise.

Auditors' reports, controllers' reports, and advertisements inviting proposals for public contracts and for bids for materials and supplies must be published in a newspaper of general circulation.

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Fixing Boundary Lines Between Two Counties (16 P.S. §§ 301-304)

The Superior Court may appoint a commission of surveyors or engineers to ascertain the boundary lines between two counties. The time and place of the commission's first meeting must be advertised in not more than two (2) newspapers published in each of the affected counties. The court will determine which party will bear the costs of advertisement.

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Ordinances and Resolutions (16 P.S. § 509(a),(b))

The board of commissioners is given the authority to adopt resolutions and ordinances to regulate the affairs of the county. All proposed ordinances must be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the county not more than 60 days or less than seven (7) days prior to passage by the board of commissioners. The advertisement must include either the full text of the proposed ordinance or the title and a brief summary prepared by the county solicitor setting forth the provisions, in reasonable detail, including the place in the county where copies of the full proposed ordinance may be examined. If the full text is not included, a copy of the full ordinance must be supplied to a newspaper of general circulation in the county when the notice is published.

If substantial amendments to a proposed ordinance or resolution are enacted after it has been advertised, the board must, within ten (10) days, readvertise a summary of the ordinance's provisions and a summary of the amendments in one newspaper of general circulation in the county.

It is not necessary to publish any maps, plans or drawings adopted as part of an ordinance. Instead, the commissioners may refer in the advertisement to the place where the maps, plans or drawings are on file and may be examined.

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Sales of Unclaimed Property of the Deceased (16 P.S. § 1235(b),(c))

Any property of a deceased person which is unclaimed for one (1) year will be turned over to the commissioners for public sale, with proceeds going to the county treasury. Notice of the public sale must be published in at least one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the county once a week for three (3) successive weeks.

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Penalty for Receiving Gratuities or Percentages (16 P.S. § 1603)

It is a misdemeanor for a county officer to receive a kickback on an advertising contract.

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Publication of Controller's Annual Financial Report (16 P.S. § 1720)

At the end of each fiscal year, the controller must complete the audit, settlement and adjustment of the accounts of all county officers. Before the first day of April, the controller must make a report to the court of all receipts and expenditures of the county for the preceding year along with a full statement of the financial conditions of the county. A summary of this financial report must be published once in any newspaper published in the county as the controller may direct. The advertisement must state that the entire text of the annual financial report will be available for public inspection during regular business hours in the office of the controller. The advertisements must be paid for out of the county treasury and costs may not exceed $1,500 per year.

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Publication of Auditor's Annual Financial Report (16 P.S. § 1721(b))

Within ten (10) days after the filing of the auditor's annual financial report, a summary of the report must be published once in at least two (2) newspapers published in the county. If only one (1) newspaper is published in the county, then publication in one (1) newspaper of general circulation is sufficient. If no newspapers are published within the county, then the publication must be in one newspaper of general circulation in the county. The advertisement must give notice that the entire text of the annual financial report is available for public inspection during regular business hours in the office of the auditor or controller. The expense of the publication must be paid by the county.

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Publication of the Proposed County Budget (16 P.S. § 1782(a),(b))

A proposed budget must be prepared and adopted no later than December 31. Notice that a proposed budget is available for public inspection must be published at least 20 days before adopting the budget. Public notice of the date set for final action on the budget must be made at least ten (10) days before final action. If the proposed budget has been advertised and is then revised to increase estimated expenditures more than ten (10) percent, or estimated expenditures for any one function more than 25 percent, the revised budget may not be adopted until it has been readvertised and made available for public inspection at least ten (10) days before final adoption.

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Amending a Budget (16 P.S. § 1782.1)

During the month of January after any municipal election following the adoption of a county budget, the commissioners may amend such budget. If an amendment to the budget is proposed, notice of public inspection must be published in a newspaper of general circulation printed in the county, as required by the above section on publication of legal notices.

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Contract Procedures Under $10,000 (16 P.S. § 1801(a),(b))

All contracts or purchases under $10,000 must be in writing and signed by the commissioners. Three (3) bids must be solicited and written records kept for contracts between $4,000 and $10,000. Advertising is not required for contracts under $10,000.

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Contract Procedures (16 P.S. § 1802)

All contracts for services and personal property over $10,000 must be in writing and made by advertising for bids.

Contracts or purchases over $10,000 must be made with the lowest responsible bidder. Notice must be published at least three (3) times at not less than three (3) day intervals if in a daily newspaper or once a week for two (2) successive weeks if in a weekly newspaper. The first advertisement must be published not less than ten (10) days prior to opening bids.

The following contracts or purchases over $10,000 do not require advertising or bidding:

  1. Contracts covering maintenance, repair or replacements for the water, electric light or other public works of the county.
  2. Contracts for improvements, repairs and maintenance made by county employees. NOTE: Construction materials costing over $10,000 for street improvements must be advertised.
  3. Contracts where particular patented products are desired.
  4. Contracts for policies of insurance or surety company bonds, public utility service, or contracts with another governmental entity.
  5. Contracts for services of members of the medical or legal profession, registered architects, engineers, certified public accountants or other personal services involving professional expert advice. \
  6. Contracts entered into by nonprofit cooperative hospital service associations for hospitals and nursing homes which are owned by or associated with the county.
  7. Contracts in the case of emergencies declared and stated by resolution of the commissioners.

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Evasion of Advertising Requirements (16 P.S. § 1803(a))

The provisions of the above contract procedures section may not be avoided by purchasing piecemeal in order to obtain prices under $10,000 when such transactions should reasonably be conducted as a single transaction.

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Sales of Personal Property and Surplus Farm Products (16 P.S. § 1805(a),(b))

Personal property of a county and surplus farm products of counties of the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth classes may only be disposed of by resolution. If the commissioners estimate the value of the entire lot to be disposed of at more than $200, the sale must be advertised once in at least one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the county. Sale of the property advertised is to be made to the highest and best bidder. Notice of the taking of bids or public auction must be published at least ten (10) days before the opening of bids or auction. The provisions of this section are not mandatory if the county property is traded-in or exchanged for new personal property.

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Rules and Regulations of the Board of Health (16 P.S. § 2193)

Rules and regulations of the board of health must be approved by the county commissioners and advertised per the requirements of the above section on publication of legal notices. Rules and regulations that meet the above criteria have the force and effect of county ordinances.

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Sale or Lease of County Property Holding Mineral or Timber Value (16 P.S. § 2306)

The board of commissioners may sell or lease any county property for at least its fair market value. If the county commissioners know or have reason to know that any real property owned by the county contains oil, gas, coal, stone, timber or other mineral or forest products of commercial value, this knowledge or belief must be advertised, together with the description of the land in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the county, once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks.

The above provisions are not mandatory where county real property is to be sold to any of the following:

  1. A city, borough, town, township, institution district, school district, volunteer fire company, volunteer ambulance service or volunteer rescue squad located within the county.
  2. A municipal authority.
  3. A nonprofit corporation engaged in community industrial development for its exclusive use for industrial development.
  4. A person for his exclusive use in a industrial development program.
  5. A nonprofit corporation organized as a public library for its exclusive use as a library.
  6. A nonprofit medical service corporation for its exclusive use as a site for a medical service facility.
  7. A nonprofit housing corporation for its exclusive use for housing for elderly or for low-income housing.
  8. The Federal Government.
  9. The Commonwealth.

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Land Appropriation - Disagreements Over Compensation (16 P.S. § 2408)

If the board of commissioners and the parties interested in the land, property or material to be appropriated by the county cannot agree on compensation, they may petition the court of common pleas to appoint three (3) viewers from the county board of viewers to make a report. The viewers must give at least ten (10) days notice of the time and place of their first meeting by publication once in one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the county, as required by the above section about publication of legal notices, and by handbills posted in the vicinity of the proposed public improvement.

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Costs of Advertising (16 P.S. § 2409(b))

The cost of advertising in connection with the viewers' report will be paid by the county, except when it is acting in conjunction with a city, borough, town or township, then the costs must be equally divided.

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Filing of the Viewers' Report (16 P.S. § 2416)

After the viewers make changes following a second meeting, they must file a report to the court showing all damages allowed and benefits assessed in each case. Notice of the filing of the report must be published once in the newspaper or newspapers in which notice of the viewers' first meeting was published. The advertisement must list the date the report was filed, a schedule listing the damages and benefits, and a statement that unless exceptions to the report are made within 30 days of its filing, the report will be confirmed absolutely.

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Bridges on a Boundary Between Two Counties (16 P.S. § 2612(c))

When the county code requires notice on the construction of a bridge on the boundary between two (2) counties, the notice must be published in each county affected.

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Building or Repair of Bridges (16 P.S. § 2670)

In addition to the provisions regarding contracts for services or personal property, advertisements for bids for bridge construction or repairs costing over $10,000 must contain the description of the repairs or design of the proposed bridge and the time open for the reception of bids. Full plans for the bridge must be kept in the office of the county commissioners, where they must be open to the inspection of all bidders. If the bridge is to be constructed on the line between two (2) counties, the advertisements must be published in both counties and a copy of the plans must be available for inspection in the commissioners' offices in both counties.

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Gaining Approval for Improvements and Changes (16 P.S. § 2740(a),(b))

The county must gain approval from the court for any proposed improvements. When a petition for approval is filed, the court must set a time for a hearing on the matter. At least ten (10) days notice of the hearing must be published in two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the county. The notice must briefly describe the location of the proposed improvement and the time, place and purpose of the hearing.

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Rules for the Protection of Roads (16 P.S. § 2784)

The board of county commissioners may adopt rules to prevent the unreasonable wear and destruction of public roads improved and maintained by the county. Before the rules become effective, they must be published once a week for three (3) weeks in two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the county to which the rules apply.

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