PRINTER'S NO. 1124
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
877
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY KEARNEY, HUTCHINSON, J. WARD, DUSH AND SCHWANK,
SEPTEMBER 28, 2021
REFERRED TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT, SEPTEMBER 28, 2021
AN ACT
Amending Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania
Consolidated Statutes, in alteration of territory or
corporate entity and dissolution, providing for municipal
boundary change; and making related repeals.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Chapter 7 of Title 53 of the Pennsylvania
Consolidated Statutes is amended by adding a subchapter to read:
SUBCHAPTER B
MUNICIPAL BOUNDARY CHANGE
Sec.
711. Scope of subchapter.
712. Definitions.
713. Interpretation.
714. Stream boundaries.
715. Boundary change agreement by abutting municipal
corporations.
716. Petition and establishment of disputed boundaries by
judicial ascertainment.
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717. Judicial ascertainment procedure.
718. Effective date of boundary change.
719. Notification of boundary change.
720. Monuments.
721. Wards.
722. Collection of taxes levied prior to change of boundary and
authorized expenditures.
723. Election districts and officers.
724. Governing body agreements.
725. Adjustment of indebtedness.
726. Judicial adjustment award proceedings.
727. Compensation, expenses and costs.
728. Territory located in multiple counties.
729. Bond issues.
§ 711. Scope of subchapter.
This subchapter relates to municipal boundary changes and
adjustments to municipal indebtedness and property rights
following boundary change.
§ 712. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this subchapter
shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Abutting municipal corporations." Municipal corporations
that share contiguous territory.
"Boundary ascertainment." Establishment of a municipal
boundary between abutting municipal corporations by judicial
decree.
"Boundary change" or "change of boundary." Any change in the
municipal boundary between abutting municipal corporations,
other than as a result of a merger or consolidation under
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Subchapter C (relating to consolidation and merger), including
any transfer of territory, boundary clarification or boundary
ascertainment.
"Boundary clarification." Establishment of a municipal
boundary by agreement under this subchapter between municipal
corporations in a territorial area with a previously unclear
boundary.
"Contiguous territory." Territory of which a portion abuts
the boundary of another municipal corporation, including
territory separated from the exact boundary of another municipal
corporation by a street, road, railroad or highway or by a river
or other natural or artificial stream of water.
"Governing body." The council in a city, borough or
incorporated town, the board of commissioners in a county or
township of the first class, the board of supervisors in a
township of the second class or the legislative policymaking
body in a home rule municipality.
"Impacted property." A parcel of real property that is
divided by a municipal boundary prior to, or will be divided
incident to, a proposed boundary change.
"Impacted territory." Territory which is subject to a
boundary change.
"Municipal corporation." A city, borough, incorporated town,
township or home rule municipality that is not a county.
"Unclear boundary." Contiguous territory between two
municipal corporations in which the exact boundary between the
municipal corporations is in dispute or cannot be readily
discerned as a result of conflicting or missing records.
§ 713. Interpretation.
(a) Certain actions unaffected.--Nothing in this act shall
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preclude, restrict or limit successive changes in boundaries and
territorial limits of any municipal corporation.
(b) County boundaries unaffected.--When a boundary change is
made under the provisions of this act which results in a
municipal corporation which lies partly in one county and partly
in one or more other counties, the territory within the
municipal corporation shall, for county purposes, be and remain
a part of the county in which the respective territory is
physically located.
(c) School districts unaffected.--Nothing in this act, and
no action taken under this act, shall affect or apply to any
school district or any school district boundary, but nothing
shall preclude further action from being taken under the
provisions of the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known
as the Public School Code of 1949, or other applicable
provisions of law to change the boundary or location of a school
district.
(d) Initiative and referendum.--Nothing in this act shall
preclude a change of boundary by initiative and referendum as
provided in sections 8 and 14 of Article IX of the Constitution
of Pennsylvania.
§ 714. Stream boundaries.
(a) General rule.--If a municipal corporation is bounded by
the nearest margin of a navigable stream and the opposite
municipal corporation is also bounded by the nearest margin of
the same stream, the middle of the stream shall be the boundary
between the municipal corporations.
(b) Prior actions unaffected.--Nothing in this section shall
be construed to affect any boundary established prior to the
effective date of this section between municipal corporations or
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repeal any local or special law contrary to this section.
§ 715. Boundary change agreement by abutting municipal
corporations.
(a) General rule.--Two or more abutting municipal
corporations, may, by the adoption of an ordinance memorializing
an agreement under this subchapter:
(1) Transfer or exchange territory between municipal
corporations.
(2) Establish a territorial boundary between municipal
corporations by boundary clarification.
(b) Prohibition on unincorporated territory.--No boundary
change may result in territory not incorporated in any municipal
corporation.
(c) Contents of ordinance.--An ordinance under this section
shall provide a description of the territory to be transferred
by a change of boundary, or territorial boundary to be
established within the impacted territory, and shall contain or
have attached a plot showing the courses and distances of the
boundaries of the municipal corporations as follows:
(1) In the case of a transfer of territory, municipal
boundaries before and after the proposed change in the
boundaries or territorial limits.
(2) In the case of a boundary established to resolve an
unclear boundary, the proposed boundary and a description of
the area which was in dispute or unclear.
(d) Notification of ordinance.--Within 15 days after
enactment of an ordinance under this subchapter, the governing
body of a municipal corporation shall perform all of the
following acts:
(1) Assign, for reference, a distinctive designation to
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any impacted territory.
(2) File with the clerk of court and board of
commissioners of the county, a certified copy of the
ordinance by which the change was effected, together with a
plot, showing the courses and distances of the boundaries
before and after the change and clearly indicating any
designation or designations, as provided in paragraph (1). If
the impacted territory is located in more than one county,
the documents and information shall be filed in each
impacted county.
(3) Notify the record owner of each impacted property in
writing.
(e) Petition and suspension of ordinance.--A boundary change
under an ordinance enacted under this section shall be suspended
following the presentation of a petition, in writing, to the
municipal secretary of at least one impacted municipal
corporation protesting the proposed boundary change. A valid
petition under this section shall be composed of:
(1) at least 20% of registered electors of the municipal
corporation. Petitioners must provide their address on the
petition along with their respective signatures; or
(2) at least one owner of an impacted property.
(f) Deadline for filing petition and notice.--A petition
under subsection (e) shall be filed with the secretary or clerk
of the municipal corporation where the registered electors
reside no later than the 20th day after the date on which the
municipal corporation files its documents under subsection (d)
(2) in the county. If the required number of registered electors
have signed the petition, the municipal secretary or clerk shall
provide notice of the petition to the governing body of all
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impacted municipal corporations.
(g) Referendum.--The following shall apply:
(1) If the required number of electors or owners have
signed the petition as provided in subsection (e) in any
impacted municipal corporation, the governing body of each
impacted municipal corporation shall call for a referendum to
be held at the time of the next general, municipal or primary
election occurring at least 90 days after the petition has
been filed, at which election the question of whether the
boundary change as provided in the ordinance of each affected
municipality will be submitted to the electors of each
affected municipality. Notice of the election and the text of
the question to be submitted to the electors shall be
published in the same manner as publication is required in
section 1201 of the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320),
known as the Pennsylvania Election Code.
(2) The question to be submitted to the electors on the
ordinance shall be framed to identify the ordinance, followed
by the words "yes" and "no." The question shall be placed on
the ballot which shall be counted, returned and computed in
accordance with the election laws of this Commonwealth.
(3) If the majority of the qualified electors of the
municipal corporation voting on the ordinance vote for the
ordinance in all impacted municipal corporations, the
boundary change shall take effect.
§ 716. Petition and establishment of disputed boundaries by
judicial ascertainment.
(a) Judicial ascertainment.--A court of common pleas may,
upon presentation of a petition, ascertain and establish
disputed boundaries of two or more municipal corporations.
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(b) Bond required.--If a petition is presented, the court
under subsection (a) may require the petitioners to file a bond
in a sufficient amount to secure the payment of all costs of the
proceeding.
(c) Petition requirement.--A petition under this section
shall be submitted in writing by:
(1) One or more owners of an impacted property.
(2) Ten or more residents of any municipal corporation
impacted by the disputed boundary.
§ 717. Judicial ascertainment procedure.
(a) Appointment.--Upon application by petition under section
716 (relating to petition and establishment of disputed
boundaries by judicial ascertainment) , the court shall appoint
three impartial individuals as commissioners, one of whom must
be a surveyor or registered engineer.
(b) Hearing.--After providing notice to interested parties
and upon publication of the petition, as directed by the court,
the commissioners shall hold a hearing and view the disputed
lines and boundaries.
(c) Stay of proceedings.--In the event that the governing
body of a municipal corporation notifies the court that the
impacted municipal corporations intend to resolve the disputed
boundary by agreement under this act, the court shall stay any
proceedings under this section for 90 days. A stay may be
extended at the discretion of the court if it appears that the
impacted parties are pursuing an agreement in good faith.
(d) Report.--A majority of the commissioners shall issue the
report and recommendations to the court, accompanied by a plot
or draft of the lines and boundaries proposed to be ascertained
and established if the lines and boundaries cannot be fully
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designated by natural lines or boundaries.
(e) Exceptions.--Exceptions to the report under subsection
(d) may be filed within 30 days after the filing of the report
by an interested person or political subdivision. The court
shall set and provide notice of a hearing on the exceptions.
After a hearing under this subsection, the court may sustain or
dismiss the exceptions. If the court has sustained the
exceptions, the court may refer the report back to the same or
new commissioners with the authority to make another report.
(f) Decree.--If no exceptions are filed within 30 days after
the filing of the report, or the exceptions have been dismissed,
the court shall confirm the report. If a report is confirmed,
the court shall:
(1) Enter a decree ascertaining and establishing the
lines and boundaries as shown in the report.
(2) Direct publication of the decree under paragraph
(1).
(3) Order that the boundary line be marked by
appropriate monuments.
(g) Compensation, expenses and costs.--The compensation and
expenses of commissioners appointed under subsection (a) shall
be in a reasonable amount as approved by the court. The court
shall, by order, provide how costs and expenses of the
proceedings shall be paid and may assess the costs individually
or in apportioned amounts against the following:
(1) The petitioners.
(2) Any interested municipal corporation.
§ 718. Effective date of boundary change.
(a) Change by ordinance.--The change in boundaries under an
ordinance shall take effect on January 1 of the year following
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the date on which all of the documents under section 715(d)(2)
(relating to boundary change agreement by abutting municipal
corporations) have been filed, unless:
(1) the filing date is within 60 days prior to the end
of a calendar year, in which case the change shall take
effect as of January 1 of the second year following the
filing date; or
(2) a timely petition is filed under section 715 in
which case t he petition shall act as a supersedeas and the
change in boundaries in all impacted municipal corporations
shall only take effect if the referendum under section 715
passes, where the boundary change shall take effect on
January 1 of the year following the referendum.
(b) Change by ascertainment.--A change of boundaries by
judicial ascertainment shall take effect on the effective date
of the decree.
(c) Change by referendum.--In the event of a change of
boundary under the provisions of section 8 of Article IX of the
Constitution of Pennsylvania by referendum, the change of
boundary shall take effect on January 1 of the year following
the referendum.
§ 719. Notification of boundary change.
(a) General rule.--Within 15 days after a change in
boundaries has taken effect, the governing body of a municipal
corporation shall file a final report of the boundary change
containing the following information with the County Board of
Elections, the Department of Community and Economic Development,
the Department of Transportation, the Governor's Office of
Policy Development or its successor, the Department of Education
and the State Tax Equalization Board:
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(1) The name of the impacted municipal corporations.
(2) A land survey showing the courses and distances of
the boundary in the impacted territory.
(3) The location of the monuments along the new boundary
line.
(4) The total assessed valuation of the impacted
territory.
(5) The approximate population of the impacted
territory.
(6) The designation, as provided for in section 715(d)
(1) (relating to boundary change agreement by abutting
municipal corporations), by which the impacted territory is
to be known.
(7) In the case of a boundary change by judicial
ascertainment, the decree shall be attached to the report.
(b) Combined notifications authorized.--All municipal
corporations impacted by a boundary change may jointly provide
for a combined final report under subsection (a).
§ 720. Monuments.
The impacted municipal corporations shall provide for the
placement of monuments, no more than 1,500 feet apart, along the
newly established boundary line, other than where a natural line
can be described, in a manner adequate that the entire territory
in question can be depicted and represented for the future. The
coordinates of monuments shall be expressed in terms of the
State Plane Coordinate System in effect on the date of the
change of boundary.
§ 721. Wards.
(a) Increased municipal territory.--If a municipal
corporation gaining territory is divided among wards, the
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governing body shall, within 30 days after the change in
boundaries is effective, provide for the distribution of the
gained territory among the wards of the municipal corporation or
for the creation of one or more wards out of the gained
territory.
(b) Decreased municipal territory.--If the municipal
corporation decreasing territory is divided among wards, the
governing body of the municipal corporation, shall within 30
days after the change in boundaries is effective, provide for
the alteration of wards among the remaining territory.
§ 722. Collection of taxes levied prior to change of boundary
and authorized expenditures.
(a) Taxes.--All taxes assessed and levied against property
in an impacted territory prior to the effective date of the
boundary change shall be paid to the municipal corporation which
levied the tax, and the collection and enforcement of taxes
under this subsection shall be as though the change of boundary
had not taken place.
(b) Expenditures.--A municipal corporation initiating a
boundary change by ordinance under this subchapter is authorized
to make reasonable expenditures for surveys required to describe
the property under consideration, or for any other necessary
purpose.
§ 723. Election districts and officers.
All election districts in the impacted territory shall remain
as constituted prior to the boundary change and shall become
election districts of the municipal corporation gaining
territory on the change in designation in accordance with the
act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320), known as the
Pennsylvania Election Code. All election district officers shall
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continue in office until the expiration of the officer's term,
unless the office is vacated.
§ 724. Governing body agreements.
(a) General rule.--Prior to the effective date of a boundary
change, an impacted municipal corporation may execute an
agreement fully resolving:
(1) Transfers of any funds and indebtedness related to
property within the impacted territory.
(2) The sharing of costs associated with the territorial
alteration or clarification.
(3) The sharing or division of any tax or fee revenues
associated with property within the impacted territory in the
year that a territorial alteration occurs.
(4) A resolution of any matters, rights or other issues
incident to the transfer of territory.
(b) Exception.--In the event that an agreement under this
section is incorporated in an ordinance, sections 725 (relating
to adjustment of indebtedness), 726 (relating to judicial
adjustment award proceedings), 727 (relating to compensation,
expenses and costs), 728 (relating to territory located in
multiple counties) and 729 (relating to bond issues) shall not
apply.
§ 725. Adjustment of indebtedness.
(a) Property.--The following shall apply:
(1) Following a boundary change under this subchapter or
any other provision of law, the governing bodies of the
impacted municipal corporations shall make an equitable
adjustment and apportionment of all the public real and
personal property impacted by the change of boundary.
(2) Except as provided under paragraph (3), the property
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under paragraph (1) shall include funds and indebtedness.
(3) If adjusting property and indebtedness under
paragraph (1), streets, sewers and utilities may not be
considered except to the extent that current and unpaid
indebtedness was incurred for the construction and
improvement of the property.
(b) Proportion.--In making the adjustment and apportionment
under subsection (a), the following shall apply:
(1) The municipal corporation gaining territory shall be
entitled to a division of the property and indebtedness in
the same proportion that the assessed valuation of the
taxable real estate included within the territorial limits of
the newly gained territory bears to the assessed valuation of
the taxable real estate in the municipal corporation losing
territory immediately prior to the boundary change. The
municipal corporation losing territory shall be entitled to
the remainder of the property and indebtedness.
(2) If indebtedness was incurred by the municipal
corporation losing territory for an improvement located
wholly within the territorial limits of the newly transferred
territory, the indebtedness shall be assumed by the municipal
corporation gaining territory.
(3) If only part of the improvement is located within
the newly transferred territory, the part of the indebtedness
representing the part of the improvement located within
transferred territory shall be assumed by the municipal
corporation gaining territory and the adjustment and
apportionment of any remaining debt shall be retained by the
municipal corporation losing territory.
(c) Form.--The adjustment and apportionment made under this
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section must meet all of the following:
(1) Be in writing and duly executed and acknowledged by
the secretary or clerk of each impacted municipal
corporation.
(2) Be filed in the office of the clerk of the court of
common pleas of the county.
(3) Be filed as a copy with the Department of Community
and Economic Development.
(d) Petition for judicial adjustment.--If the governing
bodies of the impacted municipal corporations cannot make an
amicable adjustment and apportionment of the property and
indebtedness within six months after the effective date of the
change in boundaries, the governing body of a municipal
corporation may present a petition to the court of common pleas
requesting a judicial adjustment.
(e) Appointment.--After receiving a petition under
subsection (d), the court shall appoint three disinterested
commissioners who meet all of the following requirements:
(1) Are residents and taxpayers of the county.
(2) Are not residents of or own real estate in an
impacted municipal corporation.
(f) Report.--The individuals appointed under subsection (e)
shall hold a hearing and make a report to the court containing
an adjustment and apportionment of all the property and the
indebtedness between the impacted municipal corporations. Notice
shall be made as provided by the court. The report shall state
the amount due to, payable from and the amount of indebtedness
that shall be assumed by each impacted municipal corporation.
§ 726. Judicial adjustment award proceedings.
(a) Notice.--The commissioners appointed under section
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725(e) (relating to adjustment of indebtedness) shall give the
impacted municipal corporations at least five days' notice of
the filing of the report under section 725(f).
(b) Exceptions.--If exceptions are filed to the report made
under section 725(f), the court shall dispose of the exceptions
and shall enter its decree confirming or modifying the award.
(c) Confirmation.--Unless exceptions are filed to the report
within 30 days after the date of the filing, the report shall be
confirmed by the court and the court shall issue an appropriate
order effectuating the report.
§ 727. Compensation, expenses and costs.
The commissioners appointed under section 725(e) (relating to
adjustment of indebtedness) shall receive compensation and
expenses for their services as provided by the court. The costs
of the proceedings, including the compensation and expenses of
the commissioners, shall be apportioned by the court between the
impacted municipal corporations.
§ 728. Territory located in multiple counties.
If the impacted territory is located in two or more counties,
Commonwealth Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the
proceedings to adjust and apportion the indebtedness between the
municipal corporations.
§ 729. Bond issues.
In a proceeding to adjust and apportion indebtedness, a
municipal corporation shall have power to issue and deliver
interest-bearing bonds in liquidation of the indebtedness
ascertained, to be its proportionate share payable, if the bonds
are acceptable to the municipal corporation entitled to receive
the bonds. The court may make necessary orders for the
collection and payment.
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Section 2. Repeals are as follows:
(1) The General Assembly declares that the repeals under
paragraph (2) are necessary to effectuate the addition of 53
Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 Subch. B.
(2) The following acts and parts of acts are repealed:
(i) The act of April 28, 1903 (P.L.332, No.260),
entitled "An act for the annexation of any city, borough,
township, or part of a township, to a contiguous city,
and providing for the indebtedness of the same."
(ii) The act of May 31, 1923 (P.L.473, No.258),
entitled "An act authorizing the annexation to cities of
the second class of portions of townships not exceeding
one hundred acres in area and totally surrounded by said
cities; and providing for the division of the assets and
liabilities of said townships."
(iii) The act of May 12, 1925 (P.L.596, No.320),
entitled "An act providing for the alteration of the
boundaries of counties in certain cases for the
adjustment of the indebtedness thereof; providing the
effect thereof."
(iv) Sections 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306 and 307
of the Act of June 24, 1931 (P.L.1206, No.331), known as
The First Class Township Code.
(v) Sections 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306 and 307 of
the Act of May 1, 1933 (P.L.103, No.69), known as The
Second Class Township Code.
(vi) The act of June 15, 1939 (P.L.372, No.217),
entitled "An act affecting cities of the second class A,
authorizing the annexation of boroughs and townships
thereto under certain conditions, and, in connection
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therewith, placing duties upon or affecting courts of
quarter sessions, county boards of elections, and
officers of boroughs, townships and cities of the second
class A, and providing for the payment of the
indebtedness of the various territorial units involved."
(vii) The act of July 20, 1953 (P.L.550, No.145),
entitled "An act providing for and regulating the
annexation of parts of a second class township to
boroughs, cities and townships."
(viii) 8 Pa.C.S. §§ 501, 502, 503, 504, 505 and 506.
(ix) 11 Pa.C.S. §§ 10601, 10602, 10603, 10604, 10605
and 10606.
(3) All other acts and parts of acts are repealed
insofar as they are inconsistent with this act.
Section 3. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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13
14
15