March 27 2018

Selectmen to Discuss Article to Change Treasurer/Collector to Appointed Position

By: Rich Hosford

The Board of Selectmen will discuss putting a warrant article before Town Meeting in May that would change how one office in town is filled.


On Monday they voted to put a “placeholder” article in the warrant. This was done to meet the deadline for the May Town Meeting and give the board a chance for further discussion about what the article might include.


However, Selectman Bob Hogan, who suggested the placeholder article be approved, said the subject of discussion would be changing the Treasurer/Tax Collector position from elected to appointed.


Other members said they would approve having the placeholder article put in place but did not indicate one way or another how they might vote on the subject at an upcoming meeting.


Hogan said in an interview on Tuesday that he wanted to have the discussion because he felt that the position of Treasurer/Collector had grown more complicated over the years. 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. As reported on BNEWS, Curtin announced that he will retire next year when he is set to be up for reelection. Curtin’s announced retirement is the reason Hogan said he wants to discuss possibly changing the position to an appointed one.  


“I’m thinking about the future,” he said. “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.


“Limiting it to people only in Burlington who might be popular is not enough for me,” he said. “We have an appointed Town Administrator and Police and Fire Chiefs. We’ve been successful in hiring qualified people. This is not a reflection on Brian but on the next guy or woman, the next person who will be sitting there is the issue. It’s scary the damage that could be done by someone who is not qualified.”  


Hogan said that over 70 percent of cities and town in Massachusetts have appointed treasurers and more switch to that system every year.


“I think it’s time to make that change and make it for the right reasons to get the most qualified individual,” he concluded. “There are people who are better at things than others and that is what we need. The town is running well, why let something go wrong?”


Finally, Hogan is a member of the new Government Review Committee that has been tasked with examining the structure of Burlington’s Town Government and possibly recommending changes. He said this suggestion has not been taken up by the committee yet and did not generate from its meetings or discussion. He said he wanted to bring it up to the Board of Selectmen now to get things moving as, if it is put on the Town Meeting warrant and approved by that body, it will take a lot of time to get the change officially made and Curtin is retiring in little over a year.


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