Thursday, April 03
BECKET — Should the tax collector and treasurer remain elected positions, or should they become appointed ones?

If the changes are approved by voters at next month's election, the town would be able to advertise for the jobs and hire applicants from outside Becket; under the current bylaws, only town residents can hold the positions.

According to Michael J. Falk, chair of the Finance Committee, changing the treasurer and tax collector jobs to appointed positions would be the "exact opposite of cronyism," and would allow the Select Board and Town Administrator to pick from a much broader field.

The town officials would be able to closely evaluate a candidate's technical skills and qualifications through an interview process, he added.

The ballot item was advocated by the Finance Committee and gained by the other elected town officials, Falk said, and he also emphasized that incumbents Christine Bleau and Kathleen Hayn Burtt, the town's treasurer and tax collector, respectively, are equally supportive.

Falk also emphasized that the proposed change was not prompted by issues with their performance.

If voters approve the item, Bleau and Burtt would re-apply for their jobs in May 2009, when their current three-year terms end.

In October 2006, the town underwent a financial management review by the state's Department of Revenue, the state recommended the change as a way to "protect the town," Falk said.

The item didn't pass at last year's election, and Falk suggested that voters "didn't really understand the rationale" behind the proposal.

Becket's town election will be held on May 17 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.