Baldwinsville Lysander and Van Buren residents will both have the chance to choose whether they want to see the position of highway superintendent changed to an appointed position or remain as an elected position within each town.
Since the referendum for both towns was placed on the ballots earlier this summer, constituents have questioned the need to change the long-standing custom. To help clarify their reasoning, supervisors Claude Sykes (Van Buren) and John Salisbury (Lysander) held an informational meeting Tuesday, Oct. 24, at Baker High School. Approximately 75 people showed up to the meeting.
Sykes, along with other Van Buren Town Board representatives, stressed the importance of accountability noting that previous occurrences in the highway department have led to a disconnect between the highway department and the town offices. For example, Councilor Mary Frances Sabin said there was a break in at the highway department and the town board didn’t hear about it until a check from the town’s insurance company came across the supervisor’s desk. In another instance, there was tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage done to a new vehicle purchased by the town as well as a lack of maintenance on the highway department fleet.
“An appointment has more people watching than elected,” Sykes said, noting that should the referendum pass in Van Buren, the town board plans to appoint current Highway Superintendent Doug Foster to the position.
John Van Wie, of Baldwinsville, asked what the boundaries of the position would be should it become appointed. Sykes responded saying once it becomes a competitive position, it is governed by civil service; it can be made more restrictive, but not less restrictive, and will remain a salary position with no overtime.
“It just moves from elected to appointed, everything else stays the same,” he added.
Both supervisors noted that under current town laws, any person appointed to the position must be a resident of the respective town. That law could change, however, as long as the town boards hold a public hearing.