By Paul Conyers
The town budget wasn’t the only thing up for debate at the recent Deliberative Session. A controversial proposal was Article 2, which would amend the town charter to make the position of Treasurer appointed by the Town Council instead of being directly elected. The idea of turning an elected position into an appointed one drew controversy.
“I can appreciate wanting an independent party for this,” said town resident, Daniel Bouchard. “My concern is that if the Town Manager doesn’t like what the Town Treasurer is doing, is that treasurer going to be escorted out of the Town Hall, and not allowed to do their job? Right now, the Town Treasurer is elected and you can’t do that.”
Town Manager, Michael Malaguti, assured Bouchard that such a scenario was impossible and that an appointed Treasurer had a fixed term. “The Town Treasurer is controlled by state law.” He further elaborated on the duties of the Treasurer, who oversees Londonderry expenses while seeing that the town gets the best bank interest rates. “They’re in charge of the financial aspect of the town is the long and short of it.”
Councilors originally proposed the change due to concerns over the office of the Treasurer and a fear that money could be stolen or mismanaged by an elected, unqualified Treasurer. Currently, the only requirement is that a resident of Londonderry 18 or older wins the election without the need to vet qualified candidates. Appointed Treasurers would need to submit a resume before consideration, something not currently needed.
Despite the explanation, some believed that an appointed Treasurer would be just as likely to cause trouble under the wrong circumstances.
“I understand your worry about having someone elected who is not qualified,” said Maria Barud. “My worry is that if this is an appointed position, this gives the Town Council the opportunity to rubber stamping and we’ve seen a lot of that lately.” She urged people to vote no on the article.
Others worried about the apparent speed of the proposal, asking the Town Hall to examine other options at least or delay Article 2 to the November election.
“With removing power from the hands of voters and putting it in the hands of other people, I suggest that we take the time to examine other options,” said Shawn Faber. “I just think this is being rushed through, and I would like to take some time and really think about this.”
Opposition wasn’t just from the public, there was a debate within the Town Council over the best course of action.
“I voted no on this,” said Councilor, Deb Paul. “I don’t see the reason for this, we’re losing our rights.”
Her concern was whether Londonderry’s money would be any more secure with an appointed Treasurer.
Councilor, Joe Green, disagreed. “The reason I voted yes on this is that I want to give the decision back to the voters. The people of Londonderry will make the decision over whether to make the position appointed or elected.”
Bouchard finished the discussion by opposing Green’s comment, saying that the voters have already spoken on this years ago, when they voted on the Town Charter. “My oppion is, the town already decided on this.”
Article 2 moved to the warrant for a final, public vote along with the budget and other proposed changes on Tuesday, March 14.