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Town takes another crack at clerk-treasurer referendum



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Howard (click for larger version)

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Schoonover
January 14, 2014 | 05:05 PM
TOWN OF BLOOMFIELD — Voters may remember one question on the April 1 ballot from last year, "Shall the person holding the combined office of town clerk/treasurer in the town of Bloomfield be appointed by the town board?"

On April 2, 2013, the vote on this referendum was 60-40 no.

So, why is this question back on the ballot this spring?

At the annual town meeting April 16, 2013, electors voted to combine the town clerk and treasurer positions and to change it from being elected to appointed, "to be voted on via a referendum on the spring 2014 ballot," according to the meeting minutes.

The motion by Jim Leedle, husband of Town Supervisor Sue Leedle, was approved unanimously.

"I believe there were only four electors at the meeting," said Cindy Howard, town clerk and village of Bloomfield clerk-treasurer, in a Jan. 7 email.

In a Jan. 8 phone interview, Town Chairman Dan Schoonover said the board didn't do enough to inform voters about the 2013 referendum. "I'll take the blame for that. If you're voting, and you don't know what (the question) is about, you're going to vote no.

Schoonover said the issue may have been confusing for voters the first time around.

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"We should have done a much better job (informing voters) and that's the reason it failed last time."

As early as February, the town may start spreading the word via mailings and web postings, Schoonover said.

For years, the town treasurer and clerk were separate, elected positions. In the early 2000s, the town changed the clerk to appointed. The treasurer position remains elected.

At a special Nov. 30 town meeting, on a 7-1 vote, residents voted to combine the clerk and treasurer offices.

This takes effect April 2015, once the current term for town treasurer expires.

However, Schoonover said he believes the clerk-treasurer position would be an elected one if the majority of electors vote no on the April 1 referendum. In that case, it would be up for election every two years, he said, and the clerk-treasurer would have to live in the town of Bloomfield.

He said he favors Howard, who is not a town resident, for the clerk-treasurer position.

"Cindy has already been doing (the job)," Schoonover said. "She already has the knowledge, she goes to training (programs). What's the old adage? If it's not broke, don't fix it."

He said he'd rather discuss the advantages to making it an appointed position further once the board approves materials to circulate about the referendum.

But Schoonover made this comment:

"Say you get someone new, then someone's trained, but they decide they don't want to do the job anymore or they get beat (in an election), you could get into a position where you never have a fully-trained treasurer."

Meanwhile, until the board begins its campaign, he urged people to contact himself, Leedle, Supervisor Tom Sullivan or Howard if they have questions about the referendum.

"The board is elected to do what they think is right, and I guess if someone doesn't feel this is right and has questions, please get a hold of us and let's discuss it before the referendum comes to a vote."

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