January 1, 2014 | Malcolm Johnstone
Glance at the Seal of West Chester (at right) and 1799 is listed as the year the Borough was born. While one can argue that it was actually earlier than that, it is, indeed, the year that the Commonwealth officially chartered West Chester as a borough.
But that charter has, technically speaking, ceased to exist. It was replaced by a Home Rule Charter that took effect twenty-years ago on January 1, 1994.
According to Borough Manager Ernie McNeely, West Chester was burdened with a number of state rules, some of which had needless costs. As a result, the Borough Council created a West Chester Government Study Commission to come up with a resolution to re-charter West Chester as a home rule municipality. The resolution was adopted on November 2, 1993 and went into effect the following January.
This action officially changed the community’s name to “Home Rule Municipality of the Borough of West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.” It allows the Borough to “exercise any power and function not denied it by the Constitution of the United States of America, by the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth, or by this Charter.” West Chester was thus reborn.
All this is a bit of a historical footnote, of course, but it’s also one more demonstration of the engagement that the community has to keep West Chester current with the times without losing sight of its rich past.