PENNSYLVANIA LOCAL GOVERNMENT ~~ Local government in Pennsylvania is a mosaic of 5,334 individual units. All were established by the State or provincial government and operate under laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Each unit is distinct and independent of other local units, although they may overlap geographically and may act together to serve the public.
As of 2001, there were 67 counties, 56 cities, 964 boroughs, 1 incorporated town, 1,548 townships (91 first class, 1,457 second class), 501 school districts and 2,198 authorities (active and inactive). The number of local units has remained fairly stable for the past few decades with two major exceptions.
PENNSYLVANIA TOWNSHIPS ~~ fall in one of two classes. The first class numbers 91 and includes the more urban townships located in the state's metropolitan areas; the second class, numbers 1,457, is generally rural.
In townships of the first class, the governing body is made up of elected commissioners. There are either five commissioners elected at-large or up to 15 elected by wards. The commissioners have four-year overlapping terms.
The governing body of second class townships is composed of three supervisors who are elected at-large. Two additional supervisors may be elected if approved by referendum. All are elected at-large for six-year terms. Rye Township falls into the second class category.
Other elected officials include the tax assessors, tax collector (second class), three auditors or controller, and a treasurer (first class). Appointive officers include the secretary, township manager if desired, chief of police, fire chief, engineer, solicitor and others.
To become a township of the first class, a second class township must have a population density of 300 persons per square mile, and voters must approve change of classification in a referendum. Many townships meeting the density requirement have remained second class.
Source: The Pennsylvania Manual, Volume 115, December 2001