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Elected or appointed: Willsboro voters will decide DPW issue

— Town Supervisor Ed Hatch said that the residents of Willsboro will decide how the next Department of Public Works Superintendent is hired.

The town will poll residents on the matter during the General Election Nov. 6, asking them if they would like to keep the DPW administrator position as an elected post or one that is appointed by the town board.

“We are going to put this up for a vote and let the people decide what they want to do,” Hatch said.

Peter Jacques, the current Willsboro DPW superintendent, has said that he is leaning toward retirement at the end of his current term Dec. 31, 2013. The town’s referendum states that any change to how the position is filled will not take place until Jan. 1, 2014.

Hatch said that he felt an appointed superintendent would help the town board in finding a candidate willing to do all of the needed work.

“The problem is that the next guy that comes in could say that they want nothing to do with the water and sewer systems, and then we either have to create a new position within the department or eliminate the DPW,” Hatch said.

The Department of Public Works was officially formed in 1993 to put the duties of managing the highway department, water and sewer systems under one umbrella with Jacques as the superintendent.

Hatch also said that with an elected position, the town would be able to hire a superintendent based on qualifications.

“If they are elected, they can come in with no qualifications to run the systems,” Hatch said. “With an appointed superintendent, the board can look at the qualifications and then make a determination. The board also has more control and input on operational matters, where with an elected position, the only control it really has is over the money at budget time.”

Hatch said that if the town were to make the change to an appointed DPW superintendent, they could return the position to elected.

“If we try it and find that we do not like it, then we can go back to elected under a 150-day permissive referendum.”

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