OP-ED: Since Mayor Slaughter has no plan for location of city government – here’s an idea

The following is an opinion editorial authored by Todd Bartley, TalkWilliamsport.com, News@TalkWilliamsport.com.

While he was a councilman, Derek Slaughter asked a now infamous question during a city council meeting to Bill Nichols, then city finance director and manager of River Valley Transit “where are the numbers?”

At which point, Nichols replied, “sounds like a platform to me.”

Echoing the same refrain four years later; now as Mayor, Slaughter still cannot come up with the numbers.

When asked by city council what the current financial state of the city is, Slaughter answered, “with the audits still going on we don’t know what funds are there and what funds are not, we just don’t know.” 

Now, Mayor Slaughter has had to close City Hall after the codes department condemned the building.

So if Mayor Slaughter has no idea what the numbers are or where the numbers come from; is it any wonder city departments are scattered throughout the City of Williamsport under multiple leases with any number of landlords?


In fact, there was never a plan.

After City Hall closed, City Council asked months ago for Mayor Slaughter to provide them with a plan on costs to repair and/or renovate the building.

To date, Mayor Slaughter has yet to provide the plan.

On reason, belief and the actions of Mayor Slaughter; there is never going to be a plan – since he has no intention of ever going back to City Hall.

How is that conclusion drawn?

During a mayoral candidate forum years back Slaughter was asked about staying or leaving city hall; (paraphrase) “there is no reason to put anymore money into that building.”

In the early days of him taking office as Mayor he was invited to tour any number of buildings owned by Lycoming County; as the county looked at reducing its footprint and realizing more economies of scale with a shrinking population.

Slaughter toured Executive Plaza (current home of numerous Lycoming County Offices), as well as Third Street Plaza (TSP) most notably the home of Lycoming County Voter Services and the Lycoming County Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Lycoming County and the City of Williamsport have an agreement in place to swap nearly equal sized parcels in order for the county to be able to more easily sell Executive Plaza.

The real estate closing has yet to take place and according to those close to the transaction – “it is puzzling why this deal has not closed yet.”

Based on a pre-covid-19 study done by local government officials the needed office space to accommodate the entire City of Williamsport government would be 10,000 square feet or less.

That number did not include the Williamsport Bureau of Police.

So here is the plan after Mayor Slaughter wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on a handicap ramp to nowhere in front of City Hall.

Slaughter and his administration are most likely facing a ruling from Federal Judge Brann in favor of the Center for Independent Living; finding the City of Williamsport in contempt of a court order since City Hall remains closed.


Third Street Plaza is already ADA compliant.

The City of Williamsport should enter into an inter-governmental lease agreement with Lycoming County for 10,000 square feet or less of space on the 4th Floor of Third Street Plaza.

This amount of space is less than half the available space on the 4th floor. The remaining space on the 4th floor could be leased by the Williamsport Bureau of Police as offices and records storage.

The space is move-in ready as of April 1, 2022.

The 4th floor is accessible via elevator and could easily be secured since the Williamsport Bureau of Police could also locate on the first floor of the building with a security office or on-duty desk in the former bank location.

A portion of the bank space could be sectioned off for the City finance department and possibly co-locate with Lycoming County central collections department and make use of the drive-thru for citizens to pay taxes and fines.

This would cut down on the foot traffic into the courthouse.

With the Third Street Parking Deck steps away, the City Police Department could have its vehicles in a controlled environment with video surveillance as well.

The TSP and Third Street Parking Deck locations potentially provide even quicker response times for the Bureau of Police.

If Lycoming County also moved the Commissioners Offices and public meeting room into Third Street Plaza; multiple public meeting rooms could be wired for live video streaming; creating tremendous leverage for both County and City governments.

City Council would be able to have working committee meetings and simultaneously the County Commissioners could hold their public meetings as well.

As an example, in case of a flooding event; the gathered leadership can easily meet in the EOC and then come to the public meeting rooms and deliver real time information to the public.

This was first suggested by this author nearly a decade ago related to the launch of local government and education channel 75.

If the City of Williamsport is unwilling to spend between $6 million and $20 million dollars to bring City Hall to code; it would take a minimum of 6 years to hit that number by leasing space in Third Street Plaza.

As Covid-19 demonstrated with all of the remote meetings; government entities are shrinking their footprints.

The synergies that can be realized with a move like this are tremendous; instead of having multiple departments in separate buildings and multiple leases, this plan eliminates that need and consolidates the functions of city government.

Going forward, as the closing on the existing deal for Executive Plaza and the City of Williamsport whole of government moves into Third Street Plaza, all I ask is attribution to this article when it occurs.

Even college professors understand lack of attribution and plagiarism are frowned upon.

This is what actual, “Transparency, Efficiency and Accountability” in “good government” really look like.