LETTER: Changing DeWitt Town Clerk position to appointed is not in the best interest of the town

To the editor:

Town of DeWitt residents will be voting on Sept. 23 on a referendum to change the town clerk position from elected to an appointed political patronage position.

At the public hearing on July 23, the supervisor presented an agenda detailing that the hearing was a formality and the board vote was decided before the first comments were heard. So much for the voices of the people.

Politicians wanting added powers can now use this to grant the board and supervisor the power to dismiss the town clerk whenever it suits their purposes. The catch phrase is the age-old, “It will save the town money.” The fuzzy math is somehow never fully explained. Since the town clerk was paid approximately $43,000 per year, the anticipated savings according to the supervisor and certain members of the Board was $50,000. Somehow the figures do not seem to jell. The law requires each town to have a town clerk position.

Rather than saving money, the objective of this change is to give the supervisor added power. Where we had a single responsible and elected official as the clerk and also the tax receiver of millions of dollars of taxes, we now have an appointee, serving at the pleasure of the supervisor.

Of course, there is a much greater concern. The people will have less say in their government. When the people have less say, the government insiders garner greater power and less visibility. While there is no known reason to suspect the present leadership of unlawful acts, the door will be opened for future leaders to give the people decreasing control over the local government and more opportunity to bend the rules in their favor. It is the oft stated “slippery slope.”

Perhaps the most persuasive justification for leaving the office “elected” comes from Ms. Klim, the former town clerk. In 2012, Lysander was considering a similar proposal. In an eloquent letter, Ms. Klim urged the board to keep the clerk’s position “elected.” Lysander’s board listened. Why is it that the DeWitt Town Board does not support the proven words of the now former clerk?

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