To the Editor:
Voting no on Question 3 will keep the county treasurer position elected, and will continue the checks and balances in the county’s finances. The county treasurer needs to be able to speak freely, and at times disagree with the county commissioners, county manager, and/or the advisory board on county expenditures, WITHOUT FEAR OF CONSEQUENCES.
It is only the county treasurer who has the day-to-day knowledge to discuss the totality of county finances, and sometimes it might not be what everyone wants to hear, but it needs to be independent.
You’ve heard of Questions 1 and 2 on television. But you haven’t heard about Question 3, which affects only Dukes County. The county commissioners want to take your vote and make your decision for you. They want to appoint the county treasurer, which has always been an elected position.
Citizens get to speak their voice in all other county-wide offices, which are elected: clerk of Superior Court, register of deeds, register of probate, sheriff, county commission, Land Bank Commission, Martha’s Vineyard Commission. Don’t give up your democratic right to vote (and control county finances) to the county commission.
An appointed county treasurer would report to the county manager. The county manager is appointed by the county commissioners. This would give the county manager and commissioners too much centralized control. There would no longer be a checks and balance system to provide transparency to our county residents. Keep the county treasurer independent from the county manager and the county commissioners.
Any change in this position would also affect the Dukes County Contributory Retirement Board, as well as the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, as the county treasurer has statutory responsibilities with both entities. County commissioners and the county manager know nothing about the operations of those independent offices, but if the county treasurer is changed to an appointed position, the county manager and commissioners would have the ability to have influence over these independent offices. Keep the county treasurer elected.
The voters of the county have approved two charter study commissions which consisted of local citizens and elected officials. Study commissions made no recommendation to appoint the county treasurer. Keep the treasurer elected.
You will be told that it is the recommendation of the Department of Revenue (DOR) to appoint the county treasurer. In reality, the DOR shows little interest, and has even less knowledge about counties. The argument for appointing comes from a two-hour discussion that a Department of Revenue employee had with the then current county manager and his executive assistant, who is now the county manager. A report was written, with errors in it, but the DOR published it, ignoring the objections of the commissioners and the county treasurer.
During the 27 years of the previous county treasurer’s employment, the DOR never stepped foot in the treasurer’s office. According to MGL Chapter 35, Sec. 44, the DOR’s director of accounts was supposed to perform an annual audit. That section (and others) concerning DOR oversight were repealed in 2016.
Please vote no on Question 3. Keep the county treasurer elected to ensure there is transparency, independence, and a system of checks and balances. Don’t give the county commissioners the power to dictate how your tax dollars are spent.
Noreen Mavro Flanders
Flanders is the former county treasurer. –Ed.