County Commissioners' position on upcoming Treasurer Referendum
County Commissioners’ Position Statement on Treasurer Referendum
On Tuesday, June 8, 2010 voters in Oxford County will be asked by referendum whether or not to abolish the position of elected county treasurer, and replace it with a treasurer appointed by the county commissioners.
We, the county commissioners, placed this question on the ballot after receiving notice in February that the incumbent, elected treasurer intended to step down prior to the end of her term. We believe that changing the selection method of this position from election to appointment will benefit the county in two ways — by increasing administrative efficiency, and reducing duplicative wage and benefit expenses.
For background, the treasurer is now elected to a four-year term, with the current term expiring Dec. 31, 2010. Mary Ann Prue, who was elected in 2006, recently resigned from this position. Per statute, Oxford County Democrats were allowed to nominate Ms. Prue’s replacement as she held office as a Democrat. Roy Gedat was nominated to succeed Prue, and the Governor subsequently appointed Mr. Gedat to the position of treasurer for the remainder of the current term.
This question was placed on the June ballot pursuant to a 1989 provision of state law. Upon learning of Ms. Prue’s intent to resign, we placed the question on the ballot on the grounds that it had become an open seat and its elimination would have the least impact on potential candidates and their campaigns. Furthermore, we feel that we would be remiss in our responsibility as commissioners if the voters and taxpayers of Oxford County were not given an opportunity to weigh in on this subject.
Those opposed to this proposal claim that the savings from this action would be minimal and are therefore not worth pursuing. We believe that every expense line in the budget must be justified each year, and that duplication of costs should be eliminated wherever possible. Such is the case here.
Those opposed also argue that an elected treasurer provides a watchdog of public funds that will be lost if this change occurs. This argument lacks merit in that all county financial records are available for public inspection at all times, and county financial records are independently audited each year, with the auditor’s report always available. Finally, the county budget committee comprised of nine elected selectmen from towns across the county, and the three elected commissioners themselves will remain a watchdog of the public’s money.
In closing, we appreciate the opportunity to explain this referendum question, and our rationale for its support. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your feedback on June 8.
Oxford County Commissioners: Steven Merrill, Norway; Caldwell Jackson, Oxford; David Duguay, Byron