Reporter's Guide to Pennsylvania Local Government

what you really need to know when they send you to a meeting

Second Class Township

with 14 comments


Most second-class townships have three supervisors. They may have five if voters approved the change in a referendum.

The township solicitor (lawyer) and engineer, both appointed by supervisors, are commonly present at meetings.

Other appointees who attend meetings might include a secretary, a treasurer, police officers, special police, sanitation officers, members of a park board and others.

Supervisors may also serve as township secretary or treasurer. Also, supervisors in small or rural townships commonly work for the township as road foremen or “roadmasters,” superintendents or laborers.

In meeting-table discussions, supervisors in smaller or rural townships may not distinguish between their duties as township employees and their duties as elected officials. The solicitor or secretary may lead the meeting, even though both are township appointees.


Development is a primary issue facing township supervisors in rural and recently-rural townships in the commonwealth. Common issues stemming from development include:

  • sprawl.
  • subdivision and land development.
  • zoning.
  • infrastructure — water, sewer, storm water management, roads.
  • services – fire, police, trash and recycling, schools, road maintenance.
  • clashes between older residents, who frequently are farmers, and the newer residents of subdivisions who have moved from more urban areas and may be accustomed to more services from their municipal government.


Other elected officials include a tax assessor, tax collector and three auditors. The assessor and tax collector serve four-year terms; the auditors serve six-year terms.

Township supervisors are elected at large for six-year terms. One supervisor’s seat is filled in each two-year election cycle. 

Townships operating under home rule charters may be organized differently.

Townships reorganize at the first meeting of the calendar year. In reorganization, they name a chairman, vice chairman, secretary, treasurer, engineer and solicitor. Some townships appoint a bank as treasurer.

Vacancies in township offices are filled by the supervisors.

Supervisors’ salaries for serving as supervisors are set by ordinance and cannot exceed $1,875 to $5,000 per year, depending on the population of the township.

When supervisors work for the township as roadmasters, superintendents or laborers, they earn wages and benefits which are set by township auditors and are supposed to be comparable to similar jobs in the area. They also may be paid for use of their own vehicles or other equipment.

For more information, see the Township Supervisor’s Handbook.


Written by pareporter

April 25, 2010 at 11:50 pm

14 Responses

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  1. Wish I had found this website earlier. I’ve been the Township Secretary since September and am very new at this. This site is very helpful. I can’t wait to get in and read more.

    Shirley Custer

    March 11, 2011 at 4:14 am

  2. Is the supervisors manual to be regarded as “law”, or is it merely offering guidance for Township supervisors?

    Bill McLachlan

    November 14, 2011 at 9:21 pm

  3. “Second Class Township | Reporter’s Guide to Pennsylvania Local Government” truly causes myself ponder a small amount extra. I really treasured each and every single element of this blog post. Many thanks -Roman


    July 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm

  4. It seems like you really understand a great deal about this particular subject and
    it all shows throughout this particular posting, named “Second Class Township | Reporter’s Guide to Pennsylvania Local Government”. Thanks a lot -Jacinto


    August 8, 2013 at 10:09 pm

  5. I was a twp sec for 18 years and was elected a n auditor this year. I have been out of twp several years, but my deleima is supervisors are spending 69,000 on health insurance and that’s not all. They have a credit card to pay for deductibles and medicine. Does anyone have any advice this needs to be stoped. The liquid fuels budget is only 101,000 a year. Not taking care of roads. Draining twp dry. I am prepared to take it as far as need beto get this resolved.

    pam myers

    January 8, 2014 at 1:56 am

    • Iam a township auditor also and we keep asking for a auditors handbook or at least some type of guide to help us out on what our jobs really are besides balancing the books and setting wages for the supervisors. Have you any idea on were we can find this out ?

      cindy summerson

      March 17, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      • The State of PA offers very inexpensive official courses for the training of Twp. Auditors. Advanced training is also available after the basics. They take place in various areas and times of year around the state and should be paid for by the Twp.


        March 27, 2017 at 2:02 pm

  6. “A First Class Township – The Story of Pocono Township” is now available wherever books are sold (, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) I wrote this book after working with a grassroots group of twenty residents of Pocono Township to change our community from a second class to a first class governance in 2013. Unhappy with our leadership, we convinced 63% of our residents to vote for change. It can be done! When the people allow their voices to be heard, remarkable changes can occur. Find out who we had to fight, what we had to do and how we managed this monumental feat. The book is a blueprint and an inspiration for change. A must-read if you and your community are looking for a brighter future. Visit — Jack Swersie

    Jack Swersie

    March 31, 2014 at 4:16 pm

  7. Should there be a separation of power between 2nd class supervisors and that of a Police Dept. ie: having the power to determine what full time police officer is to work what shift at any given time. To have the power to direct the chief of police in performance of his duties as a chief of police as to when and where the officers are to work or not.


    April 27, 2014 at 4:14 pm

  8. can a township consider a 2 mill tax hike to support a library that the school district owns and refuses to support with tax reveues from the residents? If so, would the Twp have to enter into a lease with the school to take over the financial and maintenance responsibilities?

    Joann Diesel

    November 1, 2014 at 7:04 pm

  9. if a second class township in pa decides to enforce a mandatory fee for trash collection can those profits go into the general fund or must they be used for that service?

    dave augustine

    October 25, 2015 at 6:46 pm

  10. I know a township where supervisors conduct business as follows: one supervisor makes a motion, another offers a second and the third just grunts. This is recorded in the minutes as three “yes” votes. SMDH.


    October 29, 2015 at 4:28 am

  11. what type of action should be taken against a township supervisor for using profanity at a public meeting he proceeded to call a solicitor handling a lawsuit for the township a dick and then said if that solicitor had a problem he would tell him to his face should there not be some kind of action taken against him

    Amy Alicea

    February 15, 2016 at 7:29 pm

  12. Are there any guidelines for various twp. committees such as parks and recreation? Do they full under the supervision of the supervisors? Do they need to report all activities to supervisors? Are there any type of bylaws by the state?

    Mary Jane Ramer

    January 10, 2017 at 2:21 am

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