Soon Sherborn voters will be asked to vote in the local election. In addition to filling slots for town offices there is one very important question on the ballot. It asks voters to give up their right to elect the Town Treasurer.
The Treasurer has one of the most important jobs in our government…handling our money. The financial officers have a heavy responsibility and liability since they must carry a significant bond, follow numerous, very specific laws designed to protect that money, and meet standards that will result in approval from auditors, the Department of Revenue and the bond rating companies. With that responsibility should come the authority that ONLY exists with being independently elected by the people they serve. As inconsistent as it may sound, that election removes them from the politics of the day and the pressure of personal agendas. It allows them to focus entirely on the ever-changing requirements of the job and the generally recommended best practices.
Let’s debunk the myths:
• Across the state there is NO big pool of already qualified people to draw from to fill these jobs. As an active member of the Massachusetts Collectors and Treasurers Association, serving on the Legislative Committee, I have first-hand knowledge that this is a statewide issue. There will be a learning curve for anyone available for hire from within or without. The good news is, there is a great network of support and all is teachable, which is demonstrated by our present Treasurer who came from no municipal experience, and not the world of finance, but by all accounts, has been serving us well during her short tenure.
• We are NOT stuck with an unexpected vacancy if no resident steps up to serve. The Select Board already has the authority to appoint to fill that vacancy and they are not limited to choosing a resident.
• An elected financial officer CAN be removed for cause. A bylaw was passed a couple of years ago that provides a non-political process for removing a dishonest, incompetent or incapacitated financial officer.
The most important things for a candidate to bring to these jobs are honesty and integrity, the rest is teachable and between the MCTA and the DoR, education is ongoing and never-ending. The Sherborn voters have always done a good job of vetting candidates. We are very fortunate that presently we have competent people who are willing and able to fill the elected financial officer positions for years to come. There is NO need to rush this change. These individuals are residents with a vested interest in the community and have already spent time on task. Let’s keep them while keeping our right to vote. I urge you to vote NO on question #1.