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Wheatland Town Board ponders referendum to make clerk, treasurer appointed positions

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WHEATLAND — The Wheatland Town Board is considering a referendum to determine if electors would prefer the clerk and treasurer positions to be appointed, rather than elected.

The first reading of the draft ordinance that calls for the referendum took place at the Town Board meeting Monday. The second reading is scheduled to take place Jan. 24. If adopted, it will trigger an April 5 referendum question to be placed on the ballot.

The family that owns Uhen’s Garage in Wheatland celebrated its 100 year anniversary with a small event for friends, family and customers on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, featuring food and numerous historical photos, documents and news clippings from the past century.

The ballot would contain a “yes,” or “no” choice for each position.

If voters approve the referendum, the clerk and treasurer positions would become appointed positions when the current elected terms expire April 17, 2023.

The draft ordinance states the term of office for each appointed position would be set by the Town Board, but may not exceed three years per state statute. The board may re-appoint the officers for additional terms. However, removal by the Town Board during a term of may only be for “cause,” as defined by state statute.

Longtime Town Clerk Sheila Siegler said she has discussed the idea with the board several times over the years.

Siegler has been the elected clerk since 1977. Debra Vos has been the town treasurer since 1997.

According to the Wisconsin Towns Association (WTA), of 1,249 towns, there are currently: 240 appointed clerks and 800 elected clerks; 165 appointed treasurers and 875 elected treasurers; 126 appointed clerk-treasurers and 102 elected clerk-treasurers.

Among the three town governments in western Kenosha County, the clerk-treasurer position in the Town of Paris, and the separate clerk and treasurer positions in the Town of Randall are appointed; the clerk/treasurer post in Brighton is elected.

The WTA notes on its website:

Appointed clerks and treasurers: do not have to be town residents; have their qualifications, job descriptions, and wages/benefits set by the Town Board as they are essentially town employees hired by the board; cannot be removed by the board during their term of office, unless there is “cause” for removal (misconduct in office or neglect of duties); can be appointed for a term not to exceed 3 years, but can be appointed for a shorter period.

Elected clerks and treasurers: must be town residents; cannot be required by the board to hold specific qualifications or obtain training (unless required by state law-such as election training for clerks); can be recalled from office like other elected officials, but cannot be removed from office by a board vote; are elected for two year terms at the spring election in odd-numbered years.

Those who support a move to appointed, rather than elected positions often cite the need for advanced qualifications and the ability to look beyond the municipal boundaries to find the best candidate.


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