THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE MAYORS’ ASSOCIATION
HistoryThe Pennsylvania State Mayors’ Association (PSMA) was founded by 5 Mayors and their supporters, who conceived of an association that would have no formal affiliation with any other municipal organization and would represent, educate, and advocate for all Mayors. It was to be an organization of Mayors, by Mayors, and for Mayors. On January 22, 1971, the PSMA was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation. The PSMA has always operated pursuant to written Bylaws that have been revised a number of times over the years to meet the evolving needs of the Association. Because membership in the PSMA is open to all Mayors regardless of whether they are from a borough, city, incorporated town, or home rule township, the PSMA has grown to be one of the largest organizations of Mayors in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
PurposesThe purposes of the PSMA are:
- To secure closer official and personal relationships among all Mayors of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;
- To secure unity of action in matters pertaining to Mayors and their duties;
- To exchange information among Mayors so that they can give better service to the municipalities that they represent;
- To work for closer cooperation with all other associations interested in local government, whether they be county, state or federal;
- To preserve, promote and protect the rights of the office of Mayor in all facets of municipal government; and
- To actively engage in promoting progressive legislation to support programs that will be beneficial to all members of the Association.
GovernanceThe PSMA is governed by a 22 member Executive Board composed of Mayors from every region of Pennsylvania. The composition of the Executive Board is determined initially by the PSMA members and then by the officers whom the members elect. In July of even-numbered years, the members elect officers at the annual conference. The officers consist of a President, 6 Regional Vice Presidents, Treasurer, Secretary and Past President. These 10 officers then appoint, at an organizational meeting, the remaining members of the Executive Board from a slate of appointees proposed by the President.
Standing CommitteesThe PSMA has six standing committees with specific charges: Audit, Bylaws, Conference, Mayor of the Year, Nominating, and Resolutions. The Audit Committee examines the income and expense statements, other financial and legal documents and the records of the Association and then issues a report to the members attending the annual conference on the financial status of the Association. The Bylaws Committee reviews annually, and updates as necessary, the articles and sections of the Bylaws of the Association. The Conference Committee assists the President in developing programs and any awards or recognition and in making the physical arrangements for the annual conference. The Mayor of the Year Committee selects one Mayor to be honored as the Association’s “Mayor of the Year.” In even-numbered years, the Nominating Committee recruits Mayors for the 9 offices of the Association and nominates the recruits to be candidates for election by the members at the annual conference. The Resolutions Committee coordinates the policy-making activities of the Association by reviewing and introducing for discussion, debate, and adoption or rejection various resolutions, which directly or indirectly affect the office and role of Mayors.
Ad Hoc CommitteesSubject to the approval of the Executive Board, the President may establish additional ad hoc committees as necessary to carry out the policies and programs of, or to further the purpose of, the Association. Presently, there is one ad hoc committee whose responsibility it is to visit potential or intended sites for each conference and make recommendations to the Board. Several years ago, the PSMA created the Ad Hoc Committee to Update the Office of Borough Mayor, which was charged with the task of reviewing the Borough Code and proposing changes that would modernize the Office of Mayor. With the passage of Act 43 of 2012, the Act that revises the Borough Code, the work of the Committee is now complete. Notably, a number of the Committee’s proposals were incorporated into Act 43.
OperationsFrom its inception, the PSMA has maintained its state headquarters in Bethel Park, Allegheny County, the Pennsylvania County which has the largest number of Mayors. Staffed with an office manager and technology manager and guided by a former Mayor whose title is Executive Director, the PSMA headquarters exists to meet the day-to-day needs of Mayors throughout Pennsylvania. It is the site of records and resources which have been accumulating over the 45 years of the PSMA’s existence. When a Mayor asks a question of a legal nature, the PSMA calls upon the services of its solicitors, the CGA Law Firm.
Lobbying for Legislative ChangesBecause of the size and breadth of its membership as well as the fact that it is not affiliated with any other municipal organizations, the PSMA is in an excellent position to lobby for legislative changes to benefit Mayors and the issues which concern them. It was the PSMA which sponsored the bill that now gives borough Mayors the right to speak at council meetings. For many years, the PSMA caused a bill to be introduced into the General Assembly which would enable a borough Mayor to receive money for performing weddings and increase the amount of reimbursement for attorneys' fees to $4,000.00, whenever a Mayor is forced to retain outside counsel. On May 17, 2012, the language of those previous bills became law when Governor Corbett approved House Bill 1702, now known as Act 43 of 2012, amending the Borough Code. Twice, the PSMA sent representatives to Harrisburg to advocate for other provisions that were incorporated into the Bill.
The PSMA is advocating for city Mayors as well. When changes were proposed to the Third Class City Code in the last session of the General Assembly, the PSMA made certain that city Mayors were aware of those changes and offered to host a conference call among city Mayors to discuss the proposed changes. Additionally, many city Mayors favor expanding the opportunity that only some cities enjoy of levying a tax on hotel occupants in their municipalities. The PSMA has supported this initiative by retaining the services of law students from Duquesne University School of Law. Their report to the PSMA's Executive Board on the legality and efficacy of such fees has become a valuable resource in lobbying for all municipalities to have this revenue source.
Four years ago, the PSMA took a major step in support of legislation that would end Pennsylvania’s ignominious distinction of being the only state in the United States of America that does not allow its municipal police to use radar to enforce the motor vehicle speed limits set by the legislature. Again with the help of Duquesne University, School of Law, whose former Dean was Kenneth Gormley (a former Mayor), the PSMA obtained the services of a law student to help make a case with the General Assembly for bringing Pennsylvania in line with all of the other states on this important subject. The law student undertook extensive research on the laws and practices of other states with regard to the use of radar by municipal police. .