April 11 2018

Proposal to Change Treasurer/Collector to Appointed Position Not to be Decided in May

By: Rich Hosford

A Town Meeting warrant article floated last month by a member of the Board of Selectmen to change how the position of Treasurer/Tax Collector will not be on the May Town Meeting warrant.


On Monday night the board voted unanimously to approve the placement of all articles except that one with the understanding it would take it up for consideration for September Town Meeting.


The article, suggested by Selectman Bob Hogan, would have changed the Treasurer/Collector position from an elected position to an appointed one. Hogan explained to BNEWS after the March 26 meeting where a “placeholder article” was approved that he thought it was the right time to take a look at how the position is filled.


He pointed out that the current occupant of the office, Brian Curtin, has been in the position for over 40 years and during that time the town has seen a lot of growth. With Curtin retiring next year Hogan said he has concerns that leaving the position as elected might not be the best way to find a qualified candidate.  

“I’m thinking about the future,” Hogan said in March. “We have no idea who will run and be elected and how qualified they will be. Brian has grown with the department over the last 42 years and during that time the town budget has grown from $20 million to about $140 million. Also, the position has gotten more technical. There are more rules and regulations and we need to have the most qualified person sitting in that seat.”


Hogan said that he didn’t think the town should limit its search of candidates to Burlington residents and to those that could and would run and win an election.


On Monday the board had to decide whether to include the article on the May Town Meeting warrant due to an upcoming deadline.


There was some consideration about whether or not they had enough information at this time to support making the change. Board Chair Chris Hartling said he was open to the idea but wanted to hear from the Government Review Committee that was formed earlier this year and will have a report on its findings this June.

“I do think it is something we need to talk about,” Hartling said. “For me, I would feel more comfortable in dealing with this and assessing it, personally and as a board, once I had input from the Government Review Committee.”


Selectman Mike Runyan, a member of the committee, said that such specific input is beyond the scope of the Government Review Committee.


“The charge of the Government Review Committee is not designed to make specific recommendations on different aspects of how we operate,” he said. “The charge is to come to this board in June and say it is worthy to further review the town government or to say the town is running well as is.”

Still, he conceded the group could possibly take a look at the issue.


“Because this came up recently there hasn’t been any discussion on it,” Runyan said. “They could take it up but it’s not part of the charge.”


Finally, there was some discussion on timing. If Town Meeting votes to change the position from elected to appointed that decision will need to be ratified at the state level, which could take some time. However, Town Administrator John Petrin said he didn’t think it would be a problem getting that approval by next April, when Curtin is retiring, if Town Meeting makes the vote in September.


With that, and Hogan saying he was comfortable with waiting until the fall, the decision was made.


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