March 26 2019

Letter to the Editor: Vote Yes for an Appointed Treasurer

The following is a Letter to the Editor: 


I respectfully request that Burlington voters approve Ballot Question #1 on April 6. A "Yes" vote will switch our Town Treasurer position from an elected position to an appointed position.

Let me start by pointing out that Town Meeting voted decisively to support this change at its September 2018 meeting. The reason is clear, your elected representatives felt that the person handling our $150 million town budget should be a person with strong financial management credentials and experience.

Brian Curtin, who has held the position with honesty and distinction for more than 30 years, is retiring soon and a majority of Town Meeting members believe we need to be sure that a skilled, reliable person takes over the position. The vote last September shows that your Town Meeting believes the best way to ensure our money is handled well is for our elected Selectmen to hold an extensive search and hire the next Treasurer.

Mr. Curtin was elected to the Treasurer position and then re-elected numerous times. However, our yearly budget and our numerous construction bonds are very complex and I do not believe we should risk having someone who is "popular," but not well qualified handled these large amounts of money.

Getting elected to a town-wide position often involves a person having many high school or family ties in town or a network of contacts from years of volunteer activities with youth sports or other volunteer activities. These are qualifications that mean a person is of good character and has a good feel for the needs and ideas of town residents. However, it does not ensure that a newly elected Treasurer is qualified to go into work each day and manage an office of five to ten accountants and financial analysts and make complex financial decisions.

With an elected Treasurer, we run the risk that an unqualified person is elected for a three-year term with few checks and balances on his or her decisions during that time. Better that we have a person hired by the Selectmen, who will report to them regularly and will make reports to them at their public, televised meetings. That is the level of accountability and reliability we want for our next Treasurer.


Monte Pearson

Town Meeting Member, Precinct 3


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