TOWNSHIP CODE

This section deals with the required notice provisions for certain types of actions townships are allowed to take. It is divided up into two sections, one for First Class Townships and one for Second Class Townships. Townships having a population of at least 300 inhabitants per square mile are townships of the first class whereas townships with fewer than 300 inhabitants per square mile are townships of the second class. (53 P.S. § 55201) Most of these regulations require that advertisements be listed in a newspaper of general circulation [hyperlink this to legal advertising section]. A newspaper of general circulation is a newspaper which its readers pay to receive and has wide distribution throughout the township, without regard to a person's business, trade, profession or class. It can be a newspaper that is issued either daily or at least once a week.

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FIRST CLASS TOWNSHIP CODE (53 P.S. §55201 et. seq.)

Legal Advertising Whenever the First Class Township Code requires publication of a notice, the notice must be in a newspaper of general circulation printed in the township. If there is no newspaper printed in the township, a newspaper circulating generally in the township may be used. If notice is required in more than one (1) newspaper it must be published in at least one (1) newspaper of general circulation printed in the township, if there is one, or one circulating generally if there is not. In counties of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th classes (every county in Pennsylvania except for Philadelphia), when the notice relates to any proceeding or matter in any court, or the holding of an election for the increase of indebtedness, or the issue and sale of bonds to be paid by taxation, the notice must also be published in the legal newspaper, if any, designated by the rules of court of the county, unless the court states otherwise by special order. An exception to the above is that ordinances, auditors' statements, summaries of auditors' statements, ads inviting proposals for public contracts and bids for materials and supplies, or lists of delinquent taxpayers must only be published in newspapers of general circulation. (53 P.S. § 55110) See also: Legal Advertising

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First Class Township Actions and Required Notice:

Amending a Budget: During the month of January following any municipal election after a budget has been adopted, the commissioners may amend the budget. Any proposed budget amendment must be open to public inspection for ten (10) days. Prior notice of the public access must be advertised in a newspaper of general circulation printed in the township, or if none exists, in a paper circulating generally in the township. (53 P.S. § 56701.1)

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Annual Budget: The proposed annual budget must be published, or otherwise made available for public inspection, at least 20 days prior to the date set for the adoption of the budget. Final action may not be taken on a proposed budget until after at least ten (10) days public notice.

If any revision of the budget increases the estimated expenditures more than ten (10) percent overall or 25 percent in any individual item over the proposed budget, the revised budget must again be advertised in the same manner and with the same period of public inspection as the proposed budget.

It is unlawful to knowingly advertise an inaccurate proposed budget. (53 P.S. § 56701)

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Building and Housing Codes: It is not permitted to advertise a proposed standard building or housing code in full. Instead, notice of the adoption of the code, together with a brief summary of its provisions in accordance with a uniform form prepared or approved by the Depart-ment of Labor and Industry, and reference to the place(s) in the township where copies of the full code may be examined, must be published in the same manner as provided for the publication of ordinances and resolutions. (53 P.S. § 56519)

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Change of Name: Notice of an election to change the name of a township of the first class must appear in at least one (1) newspaper of general circulation of the proper county once a week for four (4) consecutive weeks. The notice must include the time of the election and its purpose. The court must approve the form of the notice. (53 P.S. § 55252)

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Contracts: A township may only enter into contracts or make purchases for over $10,000 after notice by the secretary appears in one (1) newspaper of general circulation, published or circulating in the county in which the township is located, at least two (2) times at intervals of not less than three (3) days in a daily newspaper, or if a weekly newspaper, once a week for two (2) successive weeks. The first advertisement must be published not more than 45 days and the second not less than ten (10) days prior to the date set for the opening of bids. ( 53 P.S. § 56802)

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Creation of Townships of the First Class From Townships of the Second Class: After a report of a township’s population has been filed to change the township from second class to first class, notice of the filing of the report must be advertised in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for three (3) weeks. The advertisements must be published within the 30 days immediately following the filing of the report. During this 30 day period, citizens may bring exceptions to the report. The court determines who will pay the costs of advertising. (53 P.S. § 55205)

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Evasion of Advertising Requirements: Commissioners may not evade the provisions of §56802 (General regulations concerning contracts) pertaining to advertising for bids by purchasing or contracting for services and personal property piecemeal in order to obtain prices under $10,000, when such transactions should reasonably be conducted as a single transaction. Such violations are misdemeanors of the third degree. ( 53 P.S. § 56803)

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Examinations for Police and Fire Forces: Public notice, including the time and place of every examination for police and fire forces must be published once in a newspaper of general circulation in the township, or in a newspaper circulating generally in the township, at least two (2) weeks prior to each examination. The notice must also include information regarding the kind of positions to be filled. (53 P.S. § 55635)

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Notice of Contemplated Construction: No sewer, system of sewers or drains may be constructed unless the authorizing resolution of the board of commissioners is advertised in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county in which the township is situated. The notice must appear once a week for three (3) successive weeks. (53 P.S. § 57436)

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Ordinances and Resolutions: The board of township commissioners may only pass a proposed ordinance if notice is published at least once in one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the township. The notice must run not more than 60 days nor less than seven (7) days prior to passage. The advertisement must include either the full text of the proposed ordinance or the title and a brief summary prepared by the township solicitor setting forth all the provisions, in reasonable detail, and a reference to a place within the township where copies of the proposed ordinance may be examined. If the full text is not included in the advertisement, a copy of the full ordinance must be supplied to the newspaper publishing the advertisement.

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Planting And Removal of Shade Trees: Whenever a shade tree commission or park commission proposes to plant, transplant or remove shade trees, notice of the time and place of meetings held to consider such proposal must be published in not more than two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the township, and if no newspapers are published in the township, then in newspapers generally circulating in the township, once a week for two (2) weeks immediately preceding the meeting. The notice must specify in detail the portions of streets or highways on which planting, transplanting or removal is pro-posed. (53 P.S. § 58026)

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Property Sales by Townships of the First Class: Real estate owned by a township which is worth more than $1,500 may not be sold unless it is sold to the highest bidder. Public notice by advertisement for bids, or advertisement of a public auction, must be made in one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the township. The notice must be published once not less than ten (10) days before the date set for the opening of bids or the public auction, and must include the date for the opening of bids or the date of the auction.

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Publication of Financial Statements: Within 10 days after the auditors complete their annual financial report, they must publish a concise financial statement in at least one (1) newspaper of general circulation published in the township and, if there is none, then in one newspaper circulating generally in the township. The financial statement must include the following:

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Reestablishment of Townships of the Second Class: After a report of a township’s population has been filed to change the township from first class to second class, notice of the filing of the report must be advertised in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for three (3) weeks. The advertisements must be published within the 30 days immediately following the filing of the report. During this 30 day period, citizens may bring exceptions to the report. The court determines who will pay the costs of advertising. (53 P.S. § 55209)

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Shade Tree Commission: Regulations made by a township's Shade Tree Commission concerning the care and protection of shade trees of the township must be approved by the township commissioners. The regulations must also be published at least twice in not more than two (2) newspapers of general circulation published in the township or, if no such newspapers exist, then in newspapers circulating generally in the township. (53 P.S. § 58024)

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Use of Public Land for a Purpose Other Than That for Which it Was Intended: Before the board of commissioners may use any public lands for a purpose other than that for which the lands were granted or dedicated, the township must first pass an ordinance declaring its intention and file a bond to cover any possible injuries. Notice must be given in at least two (2) newspapers in the county, stating the time during which exceptions may be filed. (53 P.S. § 57806)

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SECOND CLASS TOWNSHIP CODE

Legal Advertising

When the second class township code requires notice by publication, notice must be made in the legal notice section in one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the township.

When the notice required relates to any proceeding or matter in any court or the holding of an election for the increase of indebtedness or the issue and sale of bonds to be paid by taxation, the notice must also be published in the legal newspaper of the county, if any.

Auditors’ statements, summaries of auditors’ statements, notices of public meetings and hearings, notices of budget proposals, ordinances, lists of delinquent taxpayers and advertisements inviting proposals for public contracts and for bids for materials and supplies may only be published in newspapers of general circulation. (53 P.S. § 65109)

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Second Class Township Actions and Required Notice:

Annual Budget: Every year, the board of supervisors must prepare a proposed budget for the next fiscal year. Public notice of the location where the proposed budget is available for public inspection must be published once in one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the township. The proposed budget may not be enacted until after it has been available for public inspection for at least 20 days. It is illegal to advertise an inaccurate budget.

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Annual Financial Statement: On or before March 10 of each year, the auditors must publish a concise financial statement in one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the township. The financial statement must include the following:

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Contract Regulations: All contracts or purchases made by a township which involve an expenditure of over $10,000 must be made only with the lowest responsible bidder and after notice has been published in one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the township. The advertisement must be published at least two (2) times at intervals of not less than three (3) days in a daily newspaper or once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks if a weekly newspaper. The first advertisement must be published not more than 45 days and the second advertisement not less then ten (10) days before the date set for the opening of bids. Notice of proposed contracts or purchases must also be posted where the board of supervisors normally meets or in a conspicuous place in the township. The notice for bids must contain the following information: (53 P.S. § 68102)

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Notice of Contemplated Construction: No sanitary sewer system may be constructed unless a resolution of the board of supervisors authorizing the construction is published in a newspaper of general circulation in the township once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks. (53 P.S. § 67503)

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Ordinances: The board of supervisors has the power to adopt ordinances. All proposed ordinances must be published at least once in one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the township not more than 60 days nor less than seven (7) days prior to passage of the ordinance. The advertisement must include either the full text of the proposed ordinance or the title and a brief summary setting forth, in reasonable detail, all the provisions and the place within the township where copies of the proposed ordinance may be examined. If the full text is not included, a copy of the full ordinance must be supplied to the publishing newspaper.

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Property Sales: The township board of directors is authorized to purchase, sell or lease any real and personal property it judges to be in the best interest of the township.

Real estate in excess of fifteen hundred dollars ($1,500) may not be sold except to the highest bidder. Advertisement for bids or advertisement of a public auction must be published once in one (1) newspaper of general circulation in the township not less than ten (10) days before the date set for opening of bids or public auction. In addition, the date for opening of bids or public auction must be listed in the advertisement. The award of contracts must be made by public announcement at a regular or special meeting of the board of supervisors. (53 P.S. §§ 66502, 66503(a),(c))

The advertising requirements do not apply to conveyances or leases of real property to the following:

1. any municipal corporation;
2. Federal Government;
3. Commonwealth;
4. institution district;
5. school district;
6. municipality authority;
7. county;
8. public utility;
9. volunteer fire company;
10. nonprofit corporation engaged in community industrial development;
11. volunteer ambulance service or rescue squad located within the township;
12. nonprofit corporation organized as a public library;
13. nonprofit medical service corporation,
14. nonprofit housing corporation,
15. nonprofit organizations providing community service or development activities; or
16. nonprofit corporation established for the preservation of historical, architectural or aesthetic sites or artifacts.

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Shade Tree Commission: The board of supervisors has the power to regulate the planting, maintenance and removal of shade trees itself or to appoint a shade tree commission to administer regulations concerning shade trees.
With the approval of the board of supervisors, the shade tree commission may make, publish and enforce regulations for the care and protection of shade trees. No regulation of the shade tree commission may become effective until approved by the board of commissioners and published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the township. (53 P.S. §§ 67901, 67905)

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State Aid to Second Class Townships for Road and Bridge Construction: The Commonwealth offers rewards for the construction and improvement of township roads and the construction of township bridges in townships of the second class.

Improvements to roads and bridges may be made by contract or partly by the township and partly by contract. These contracts must be awarded to the lowest and best bidder and only after three (3) weeks notice is published in at least two (2) newspapers published in the county in which the township is located. (53 P.S. §§ 70051, 70056)

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Use of Public Lands for a Use Other Than That for Which They Were Granted: Before public lands can be used for a purpose other than that for which they were granted or dedicated, the township supervisors must pass an ordinance and file a petition with the court asking for leave to file the bond of the township to secure any person(s) who may be entitled to compensation for the taking. Notice must be published in at least one (1) newspaper circulating generally in the township. (53 P.S. § 66702)

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