Sherborn residents have the opportunity to significantly improve the working of our town government at the Annual Town Election on Tuesday, June 23. This year’s ballot has no contested races for officials and only one question – should the Town change the office of Treasurer from elected to appointed? Last year’s Town Meeting wisely voted 115-70 (over 62%) in favor of changing the Treasurer’s office to an appointed position, but it still requires approval at a Town Election to be enacted. Voting in this year’s election is especially important because a low turnout could put the Treasurer decision in the hands of only a few voters. It’s important that you make your voices heard.
Because of covid-19, the Commonwealth has approved Early Voting by Mail for Spring 2020 Town Elections. Our Town Clerk encourages every town voter to take advantage of Early Vote by Mail. You should have received already an application form in the mail, or you can download one from the Town Clerk’s page on the Town website (sherbornma.org/town-clerk). Return forms by mail to Town Clerk, 19 Washington St., Sherborn, MA 01770, or by fax or email. Or go to the polls on June 23. Just be sure to vote!
As chairperson of the Structure of Town Government Task Force II, I’d like to recap why we sponsored changing the Treasurer from elected to appointed. Almost a decade ago, two important studies commissioned by the Town, the Collins Center Report and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue Report, recommended making the Treasurer appointed. Our research included a deep dive into the ten smallest towns in Middlesex County as well as collecting data from the 174 towns in Massachusetts with populations under 10,000. Seven of the ten Middlesex towns and 73% of small Massachusetts towns appoint their Treasurers. Those towns recognize that the modern Treasurer’s job has become an increasingly complex position with specialized requirements. Our town is no longer well-served by a structure from a simpler time.
What are the benefits of an appointed Treasurer?
• The widest possible net can be cast for qualified applicants because they are no longer required to be Sherborn residents. Of course, Sherborn residents are always eligible.
• The utilization of best practices in hiring – verification of qualifications, increased vetting, and thorough interviews. Not election by voting for the only name on the ballot.
• Closer monitoring of job performance – frequent evaluation and timely remediation or removal, if needed. We currently can remove an elected Treasurer for serious malfeasance but we have no protection from poor performance.
• Better succession planning – a non-resident assistant will be eligible to move up to fill a Treasurer vacancy rather than leave and take our training to another town.
• Greater unity in the Finance Department to pursue common goals.
• The change is supported by our current Treasurer – the person whose department is most affected.
Some are concerned that an appointed Treasurer might be pressured by a superior official to do something unethical and would not have the independence to refuse. Abuse of power is unfortunately possible in all organizations but is more effectively and more quickly addressed by Human Resource reporting rather than by election.
Others suspect an elected Sherborn resident will care more about the job than a non-resident. We believe that smart hiring results in good employees who take pride in their job wherever they work.
So, once again, as we did at the 2019 Town Meeting, we urge you to vote in favor of changing the Town Treasurer from an elected to an appointed position.
Coralinda Lincoln, Chairperson
Structure of Town Government Task Force II