The City of Reading Charter Board was created by the first amendment to the Home Rule Charter. Amendment I, approved overwhelmingly by voters during the November 2002 election, reinforced the Charter as the governing law of Reading, and created a five member Board to serve city residents in the following ways:


1. Charter Enforcement:

The Charter Board hears and decides all cases alleging violations of the Charter or Administrative Code. The only cases excluded from the jurisdiction of the Board are those complaints which pertain to, or are governed by the Ethics Code or the Personnel Code (reference Charter Section 1201). Upon receipt of complaints, through its Investigative Officer, the Board is authorized to determine jurisdiction, conduct investigations, refer cases for prosecution, issue binding opinions, and impose penalties and administrative fines. If necessary, the Board may also institute appropriate civil or equitable action to enforce its Final Order.

In practical execution, the Board strives to prohibit commingling of its adjudicatory and prosecutorial functions. Complaints are received and reviewed by a contracted Investigative Officer, who determines jurisdiction, conducts all investigations, and issues a written report of findings. Board members review the findings report, preside over evidentiary hearings, and decide, by majority vote, whether a violation of the Charter or Administrative Code has occurred. Their determination, called the Final Order, includes the findings of fact and conclusions of law which support the determination, and outlines the relevant factors considered in imposition of penalties and/or fines. The entire process, from receipt of complaint to Final Order, should be complete within eight months.

Finally, any person aggrieved by an adjudication of the Charter Board has a right to appeal to the Berks County Court of Common Pleas. Any person who prevails in adjudication against the City (including its officers or agents) to enforce the Charter or Administrative Code is entitled to recover all reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred by the action.


2. Advisory Powers:

The Board may render advisory opinions concerning matters of home rule or enforcement of the City Charter at the written request of any public official or city employee. The Board may also render advisory opinions on its own motion, if it deems such action to be in the public interest. Advisory opinions are issued no later than 30 days following the receipt of the written request.


3. Charter Education:

The Board directs and administers a required orientation regarding the Home Rule Law, the City Charter, the City Administrative Code, and the Ethics Code for all newly elected City officials. The Board typically conducts this orientation with assistance from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the State and County Bar Associations, and the Ethics Board.

Additionally, the Board seeks to proactively educate and keep before the public and members of City government their rights, duties, and obligations under the City Charter and Administrative Code. To this end, the Board has undertaken a variety of educational approaches, such as sponsoring a bi-monthly television program on local cable, encouraging public participation in its required orientation course, speaking on Charter related matters within the community, and formatting written educational materials.