Highway superintendent: From elective to appointed?

— “If an elected superintendent is what is best for taxpayers then why aren't the head of the NYSDOT, the Onondaga County DOT, the Thruway Authority and school superintendents elected?” Sykes asked, adding that the two largest towns in the county, Clay and Salina, have appointed superintendents as do all villages in New York and towns within other states.

In addition, Civil Service requirements for an appointed superintendent are much higher than an elected superintendent, which only requires residency and a minimum age of 18 years old.

“Many believe that the state law governing elected highway superintendents is antiquated and should be changed to require appointed superintendents,” Sykes said. “On the other side of that coin, many believe it should stay elected since the superintendents would rather face a public vote every two or four years rather than try to work with their town boards, who have the institutional knowledge of problems within their respective towns and know the other overall problems within the town.”

“With the economic times we face, the method that affords the most accountability should be utilized,” Sykes continued. “Since highway budgets are the largest, it is old school thinking that they should operate separate from the rest of town government. Our board feels that accountability, cooperation, improved oversight and transparency are more important than any one individual, position, special interest group or political party. This is about what is right for the taxpayers.”

Looking ahead, Sykes noted that if Van Buren, Lysander and Baldwinsville were to ever consider becoming a consolidated municipality then having the superintendents appointed would be one less obstacle in the consolidation effort. Although, Sykes also said there was already a discussion about consolidating the three municipalities’ highway departments and officials determined it would be difficult for one person to do the job without appointed deputies.

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