By Alex Malm
During the Monday night, Nov. 21 Town Council meeting, members opened a public hearing on whether to move forward in the process of putting a warrant question on the March ballot asking voters to change the Town Treasurer to an appointed position rather than an elected one.
The change would be an amendment to the Town Charter, therefore it would need to be voted on by the citizens.
Town Manager, Mike Malaguti, explained that by going with an appointed Treasurer, they would be more in line with communities of the same size as Londonderry.
“It is something that the finance director and I believe should be at least considered,” said Malaguti.
He explained he thinks most of the functions of the Town Treasurer could be done in house.
“This is something we think will improve efficiencies,” said Malaguti.
He said that it would also give them more say in picking someone who has credentials to do the positions.
Finance Director, Justin Campo, said they have been lucky to have qualified people who have run for the seat and have been elected, however, he is concerned when “luck runs out’ and they may have someone who isn’t qualified.
Campo said some of the roles of the Town Treasurer includes being responsible for deposits, verifying that purchasing is being done properly, and staying in compliance with all the other RSAS that are financially based.
It was pointed out by Malaguti that the position would still remain a three-year term.
Town Councilor, Deb Paul, said she thinks it’s important to have the position stay elected. It creates a watchdog for the taxpayers looking at government spending.
She also argued that unless there is actual proof that there were concerns in the past about something not being done correctly, or people who weren’t qualified trying to become Treasurer, then she thinks it should be left the way it is.
While she thinks the current Administration is doing a good job, she said that there will be different people one day.
“I still think it’s good to have someone from the outside not in the building looking in,” said Paul.
Town Council Chairman, John Farrell, said since the charter has been written this would be the eighth amendment made to it.
“Documents do change, policies do change over time,” said Farrell.
Former Town Treasurer, Richard Buniewski, who served in the role from 2001 to 2004, said when he began asking people questions in Town Hall they were upset.
One particular thing he pointed out was being able to get a purchasing policy in place, something that didn’t exist before he was elected.
“We didn’t have one,” said Buniewski.
He said that he was also able to help get an assistant Town Treasurer position saying that it is critical if the Treasurer can’t perform their duties.
Ultimately, he said it is important to have a third person keeping an eye on the Town’s finances.
“You need to leave this for the people to decide,” said Buniewski.
Glenn Douglas, a Londonderry resident, argued that he didn’t think it was a good idea to go with an appointed position, saying he didn’t think it was a good idea to have one group of people in town decide on all positions.
“I don’t really like that idea,” said Douglas.
He also felt that the process was being rushed.
It was pointed out by Farrell that the vote during the meeting was to see if the State would allow them to put the question on the ballot. If they approve of it, then it would go back to the Town Council for their consideration of whether or not it should be placed on the ballot.
The Town Council finished the discussion by voting 3-1 to move forward in looking for permission from the state about whether or not it is something that could be put on the ballot.
Paul was the only member voting against the proposal, siding with the majority of citizens that spoke against the idea at the hearing.