To the editor:
DeWitt is holding a referendum on Tuesday, Sept. 23. Residents are asked to vote at town hall between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Only one polling place will be open in order to minimize expenses.
It’s no secret — New York’s property taxes are among highest in the nation. It’s convenient to maintain the status quos and blame the state for structuring a system that is bloated, archaic and expensive. In the meantime, businesses and jobs, young families and retirees are forced out of New York, and we continue to lose population to more efficient, more modern and less costly communities in other states.
Numerous academic studies have addressed the subject of government modernization. A common theme for lowering costs, improving efficiencies, de-politicizing and establishing functional government is to convert elected administrative positions to appointments. In April 2008, the Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness (LGEC) and, in February 2013, the Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission included recommendations for appointing town clerks. Many prominent business, civic and elected officials and local organizations have called for implementing LGEC and SAGE initiatives because of the important influence property taxes have on the local economy.
A town clerk’s duties are administrative and should not be political. Town clerks should be appointed just like department heads: police chief, comptroller, assessor, etc. City and village clerks are appointed and serve the same functions. If appointment is so dangerous, why don’t we see chaos emanating from cities and villages? Besides, in the last 30 years, 16 DeWitt elections involved the town clerk. Only two races were contested.
The timing on this referendum is simply because Barbara Klim retired in late July. Election law requires a vote be held on the nearest election cycle. Should voters choose to keep the clerk an elected position, six weeks would remain to conduct campaigns. An election to fill the position should not occur before the referendum. It’s just a logical decision-making progression.