Town voters to decide whether to appoint or elect treasurer

By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

Should the Town of Port Washington treasurer be elected or appointed?

The Town Board on Monday agreed to put that question to voters next year — a question suggested by Town Treasurer Mary Sampont.

Sampont said it’s something the town has discussed periodically over the past few years.

“Since it’s been working with the clerk, we thought we’d try it with the treasurer,” she said, referring to the fact the town clerk’s position became an appointed one following a 2014 referendum.

“It (the position) has become a little more technical through the years,” Town Chairman Jim Melichar said. “The treasurer handles almost everything that goes on in the town.”

Having an appointed treasurer could ensure a professional approach to the job, Supr. Mike Didier said.

“More than an elected position, yes,” he said. “You don’t have to be qualified to run for the job. It hasn’t been a huge problem here, but it could be.”

Monday’s decision was only the first on the road toward an appointed position. In November, a resolution calling for an appointed post will come before the Town Board and, if approved, a referendum on the matter will be held next year.

Town Clerk Heather Krueger asked that the board hold the referendum in spring, not fall when the presidential election will dominate voters’ minds.

“Normally we vote on town issues in spring,” Sampont said.

If approved in spring, the treasurer wouldn’t be appointed until 2021, when Sampont’s term is up, officials said.

Melichar suggested the board consider a term of three years for an appointed treasurer — the maximum allowed by state law — noting that there would then be less opportunity for the entire Town Board and the treasurer to turn over at one time.

“That could make things a little crazy,” he said.

Didier said that statistically the measure is likely to fail, noting that of Wisconsin’s 1,249 townships only 165 have appointed treasurers.

It took the Town of Port two tries before the clerk’s position became appointed. The measure lost by 25 votes in 2010 before it was approved four years later.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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