This is an overview of substantial changes to the Borough Code identified as having the greatest impact on boroughs. However, this is not a comprehensive legal summary on all the powers, duties and obligations maintained by the commonwealth’s boroughs, and this document should not be read, interpreted or perceived as such. PSAB provides this summary as an educational element only. Any legal interpretations, as well as determinations regarding the Borough Code and/or its related laws are the sole responsibility of each borough and its legal counsel/solicitor. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information supplied herein; however, PSAB cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions.
Article XII ̶ Corporate Powers
This broad article, which captures the corporate powers, duties and roles a borough may enact or incorporate, is heavily amended, reorganized and clarified. Under the General, Specific and Reserved Powers sections, borough officials would be wise to incorporate this body of knowledge into their general governance approach.
- Section 1201, General Powers. Retains parts of old Section 1201 and allows council to “exchange” real property for other real property provided that it is of equal value or better.
- The property must comply with the Floodplain Management Act1 and also be used for municipal purposes.
- Section 1201.1, Real Property. Borough owned real estate may be sold upon council’s approval and by resolution.
- Subsection (a). The process council follows if no bids are received does not change; however, the Non-Receipt of Bids Act2 is now cross-referenced.
- Subsection (d) (3). When council is exchanging real property council must advertise the resolution once in a newspaper of general circulation no more than sixty or fewer than seven days prior to adoption.
- Section 1201.2, Personal Property. Council must pass a resolution prior to selling personal property.
- Section 1201.3, Exceptions. When a borough sells real or public property to the list of entities in this section, the bidding requirements of this article do not apply. A few of the exceptions prior to Act 43 only applied to when real property was sold. Now it is expanded to include both real and personal property when sold to such entities.
- Section 1202, Specific Powers. In the interest of describing enumerated specific powers, each paragraph is identified here as a subsection, which technically are statutorily defined as paragraphs. This was done for the sake of ease and clarity in understanding Section 1202.
- Subsection (1), Fees for service of offers. Specifically exempts police from charging fees for responding to vehicular accidents and cross-references Act 69 of 2007.
- Subsection (4), Nuisances and dangerous structures. This consolidates old Section 1202 (4) Nuisances and (5) Nuisances and dangerous structures.
- Subsection (5), Health and cleanliness regulations. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (6).
- Subsection (6), Regulation of vaults, cesspools and drains. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (8).
- Subsection (7), Manure and compost regulations. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (9).
- The Subsection cross-references PA Consolidation Statutes relating to nutrient and odor management, and states that municipal ordinances that conflict with the act are preempted.3
- Subsection (8), Garbage and other refuse material. This new Subsection is a consolidation of old Section 1202 (10) Accumulations of garbage and other refuse material, (11) Removal of garbage and other refuse material, and (45) Garbage and refuse disposal facilities, and old Sections 2511-2513 related to refuse disposal facilities.4
- Subsection cross-references the Solid Waste Management Act5 and the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act.6
- Subsection (9), Dogs, cats and other pets. Cross-references the Dog Law.7
- Subsection (10), Livestock, fowls and all other animals. Subsection combines old Section 1202 (12) Hogs, (14) Livestock, fowls and certain other animals, and (15) Pigeons.
- Now states that no ordinance enacted pursuant to this clause shall unreasonably interfere with any agricultural operation.
- Subsection (11), Smoke regulations. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (16).
- Now clarifies that regulations on smoke are authorized to the extent such regulations are not otherwise prohibited by applicable state or federal law.
- Subsection (12), Street and sewer regulations; obstructions. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (17).
- Subsection (13), Riding or driving on sidewalks. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (18).
- The definition of vehicle incorporated into this Subsection is from Section 102 of the Vehicle Code.
- Expands prohibited or regulated activity to include parking.
- Subsection (14), Disorderly conduct, disturbance of the peace, ordinances. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (20).
- Subsection (15), Construction code, property maintenance code, fire prevention code and reserved powers. New Subsection authorizes the adoption and enforcement of these powers pursuant to new Article XXXII-A, Uniform Construction Code, Property Maintenance Code and Reserved Powers.
- Subsection (16), Prohibition of fire producing devices and smoking. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (22).
- Now provides that no ordinance, regulation or resolution may regulate smoking in a manner that conflicts with the Clean Indoor Air Act.8
- Subsection (17), Fireworks and inflammable articles. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (23).
- The reference to the sale of inflammable or otherwise dangerous articles is removed.9
- Subsection (18), Numbering buildings. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (25).
- Expanded to include the numbering of lots. This is not intended to mean physically numbering each lot, but having reference numbers on maps.
- Subsection (19), Party wall and fence regulations. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (27).
- Subsection (20), Prohibition, licensing and regulation of business. Incorporates old Section 1202 (28) Noxious and offensive businesses, (29) Junk yards, and (31) Markets, market houses and peddling into this new Subsection
- However, the terms “market houses” and “peddling” from old Subsection (31) were deleted.
- Subsection (21), Zoning and land use regulations; building lines. New Subsection cross-references the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code in regards to adopting regulations for zoning, subdivision and land use and development.
- Subsection (22), Creation of capital reserve fund for anticipated capital expenditures. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (33).
- Subsection (23), Operating reserve fund. This new Subsection authorizes the creation and maintenance of a separate operating reserve fund for meeting emergencies involving the health, safety and welfare of borough residents.10
- Subsection (24), Intergovernmental Cooperation. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (34), but has been renamed.
- In addition, the majority of former Section 1202 (35) Joint contracts for police and fire protection into Subsection (24) with changes primarily acknowledging regional police departments.
- Subsection now cross-references PA Consolidated Statutes related to intergovernmental cooperation.11
- Subsection (25), Insurance on property. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (36).
- Now includes leased buildings or properties.
- Subsection (26), Other insurance. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (37).
- The Subsection is further subdivided according to the type of insurance (workers compensation insurance, life and health insurance, pension contracts, and liability).
- Clarifies that appropriations for workers’ compensation insurance shall be made in order to provide such insurance to borough employes as “employe” is defined in Section 601 of the Workers’ Compensation Act (as well as continuing to provide such insurance to volunteer fire fighters).
- Deletes reference to class or classes of the mayor or council or their dependents from being eligible for life and health insurance. Thus, no retired mayor or retired council member or dependents of those retired individuals will be eligible for this insurance unless they have previously been employed by the borough.
- Any class or classes of employes, including an employe’s dependents, remain eligible for this insurance.
- Subsection (27), Public transportation. Former Section 1202 (38) Contract with railways and (47) Inclined planes were combined into this new Subsection per recommendation of the Public Utility Commission.12
- Subsection (28), Community building and public facilities. This Subsection is a consolidation of former Section 1202 (40) Community buildings, (43) Comfort stations, and (44) Watering troughs.
- Clarifies that “acquiring” land or buildings for these purposes includes not only purchase, but also gift, exchange or eminent domain.
- Subsection (29), Lockup. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (41).
- Subsection (30), Flags. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (42).
- Subsection (31), Parking lots. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (46).
- Now provides that regulations of parking lots shall be consistent with the Vehicle Code13 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.14
- Subsection (32), Historical property. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (48).
- Subsection (33), Provisions against hazards of war, terrorism and disasters. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (49) and now includes terrorism and manmade or natural disasters.
- Cross-references PA Consolidated Statutes related to health and safety.15
- Subsection (34), Towing. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (51).
- Now includes reference to trailers and recreational trailers.
- Provides for an official rotation list for the borough if council authorizes the same; towers must agree to tow vehicles for a charge not in excess of negotiated price.
- Subsection (35), Fire, rescue and life saving apparatus and buildings. This Subsection is a consolidation of former Section 1202 (52) Fire, rescue and life saving apparatus and houses and (66) Community ambulance service.
- Former Subsections (53)-(60). These Subsections relating to the national guard, veterans and memorials moved to a new Article XXIV-A, Veterans’ Affairs.
- Subsection (36), Municipal music. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (36).
- Subsection (37), Purchase and planting of trees. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (63).
- Subsection (38), Hospital appropriations. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (64).
- Subsection (39), Building hospitals. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (64.1).
- Removes reference to the appropriations not to exceed $1 per resident per year.
- Subsection (40), Community nurse services. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (65).
- Now states that community nursing services may be provided for the elderly and other needy persons.
- Subsection (41), Appropriation for civic purposes. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (67).
- Subsection (42), Appropriations for handling, storage and distribution of surplus foods. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (68).
- Subsection (43), Appropriations for industrial promotions. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (69).
- Subsection (44), Appropriations to tourist promotion agencies. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (70).
- Deletes reference to the cap not to exceed ten cents for each resident.
- Subsection (45), Appropriating money to assist municipalities and municipal authorities for airports. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (71).
- Now provides that money may be appropriated for airports of municipalities rather than for political subdivisions. The effect of this change is to exclude school districts, but still include county airports.
- Subsection (46), Non-Debt revenue bonds. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (72).
- Subsection is updated to cross-reference the Local Government Unit Debt Act.16
- Subsection (47), Rewards for apprehension of certain criminals. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (73).
- Subsection (48), Appropriations for Urban Common Carrier Mass Transportation. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (73.1).
- Subsection (49), To undertake community development programs, including but not limited to urban renewal, public housing, model cities programs and neighborhood development projects. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (75).
- Subsection (50), Sale of real or personal property to non-profit medical service corporation. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (76).
- Authorized sale of borough-owned real or personal property which must be used for a medical service facility. Now includes the sale of personal property.
- Subsection (51), Sale of real or personal property to non-profit housing corporation. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (77).
- Authorized sale of borough-owned real or personal property which must be used for a non-profit housing corporation. Now includes the sale of personal property.
- Subsection (52), Grants to non-profit art corporations. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (78).
- Deletes reference to the not to exceed one mill of real estate tax.
- Subsection (53), Appropriations for neighborhood crime watch programs. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (79).
- Subsection (54), Appropriations to Senior Citizens Organizations. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (80).
- Subsection (55), Appropriations to watershed associations. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (81).
- Subsection (56), Emergency Services. This Subsection was formerly Section 1202 (82).
- Subsection (57), Appropriations to conservation district. This Subsection was formerly Section 1317.
- Subsection (58), Mines and quarries. This Subsection is comprised of former Sections 1163 and 1164.
- Amendments show that boroughs do not regulate mine or quarry inspections.
- Now clarifies that the engineer is the borough engineer.
- The borough engineer may now only enter and survey the mines as opposed to also inspecting and examining mines.17
- Subsection (59), Assessments of benefits. This new Subsection cross-references Article XXI-A, Assessments and Charges for Public Improvements.
- Subsection (60), Authority to purchase natural gas wells. This Subsection was formerly Section 2481.
- Subsection (61), Real estate registry. This Subsection was formerly Sections 3001-3006.
- Provides, by ordinance, for the establishment and maintenance of a real estate registry.
- Cross-references the Uniform Municipal Deed Registration Act.18
- Subsection (62), Authority to manufacture and supply electricity. This Subsection cross-references Article XXIV-A, Manufacture and Supply of Electricity.
- Subsection (63), Authority to provide telecommunication and cable television services. This a new Subsection.
- Authorizes the provision of telecommunication and cable television services to the extent that provision of telecommunication services are provided in a manner consistent with state19 and federal law.
- Subsection (64), Underground conduits. This Subsection is from old Article XXIII, Underground Conduits, Sections 2301-2304.
- Now specifies the borough’s power to regulate the manner, terms and conditions of the use of underground conduits shall be subject to approval by the Public Utility Commission.
- Subsection (65), Actions for municipal claims. This is a new Subsection.
- Provides for actions in assumpsit (against the person, i.e., an in personam action, as opposed to against the property, i.e., an in rem action) for unpaid municipal claims regardless of whether a lien was filed against the property for the unpaid claim.
- This Subsection provides the borough with the right to file a lien against an individual’s personal assets as opposed to the property for unpaid municipal claims regardless of whether a lien was filed against the property for the unpaid claim.
- This addition, while new to the Borough Code, is not new municipal law. The language is derived from the Municipal Claims and Tax Lien Law.20 Now this power becomes part of organic borough law.
- Section 1203, Reserved powers. This Section is from old Section 1202 (74).21
1Act 166 of 1978
2Act 78 of 1979
33 Pa. C.S. Ch.5 Section 519
4Act of 1965, P.L. 1656, No. 581. Article XXV, Subdivision (b), Refuse Disposal Facilities
5Act 97 of 1980
6Act 101 of 1988
7Act 225 of 1982
8Act 27 of 2008
9Mirrors provisions in Section 1534 of the Second Class Township Code.
10This new section is derived from Section 1508.1 of the Second Class Township Code.
1153 Pa. C.S. Ch. 23 Subch. A
12The Public Utility Commission suggested language that was added regarding jurisdictional limits established by Title 49 of the United States Code and certain contracts.
14Act 222 of 1955
15Title 35 of Pa.C.S., Health & Safety
1653 Pa.C.S. Pt. VII Subpt. B (relating to indebtedness and borrowing)
17Inspection and examination of mines is now within the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Mine and Reclamation, Department of Environmental Protection.
18Act 110 of 2008
1966 Pa.C.S. Ch. 30 (relating to alternative form of regulation of telecommunications services)
20Act 153 of 1923
21These powers have been moved and renamed to avoid conflict with former Section 1201 (74), which was related to general powers.