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Town Meeting Supports Appointing Town Treasurer

Milford Town Meeting Members spent a little over two hours this past Monday night to appropriate $4 million dollars through 21 separate votes, transfer another $1 million to lower the property tax rate, and support the majority of the Board of Selectmen in asking the state legislature to change the Town Treasurer's position from an elected to an appointed position. That request was one of two that were debated; the other was a $100,000 request to study whether it makes sense for the town to try to acquire the privately held Milford Water Company.

After a roughly 30-minute discussion, Town Meeting Members voted 100 to 71 to support Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis' and Selectman Brian Murray's request to make the Town Treasurer's position appointed. "A person can be elected without any education or qualifications," DeBartolomeis said, adding that "making the position appointed as soon as possible" is one of his board's top priorities.

"This is a good article," said Salvatore Cimino. "The popular person gets elected, not the one that knows everything." Referring to the Board of Selectmen, he said, "Trust them. They've showed us they're pretty good at what they do."

Also supporting the change was Reno DeLuzio, saying that the board could set strict qualifications for the position, as opposed to today's requirements that you are 18 years old, a registered voter and can get 50 people to sign your nomination papers. "Don't risk leaving the selection of Treasurer to chance," he said.

"I've always thought it should be appointed," former Town Administrator Louis Celozzi said. "Personally, I'd rather not continue to be lucky."

Selectmen Chairman William Buckley opposed the change, saying, "I guess my first question is, 'What are we fixing?' It's a political process whether it's appointed or elected by the voters of Milford." He added, "I think the voters have done a great job and it's time we give them their due."

A number of Town Meeting members spoke out against the change. "I think we put too much power in the selectmen's hands," said Joseph Cosentino.

The majority of the selectmen, Michael Visconti argued, want people to think that voters are not qualified to make the right decision in picking a Town Treasurer. "We can avoid favoritism and nepotism influencing the decision" by keeping the position elected, he argued. "We don't know if anyone who puts their name on the ballot has qualifications. That all comes out in the campaign," he added.

Dan Niro said leaving the position elected maintains a balance of perspective against all the other appointed financial officials. "You want as many checks and balances as possible," he said. "You want someone you can hold accountable."

Michael Soares, who ran unsuccessfully for the position earlier this year, tried to amend the article to have all of Milford's voters decide the issue in next year's Town Election, but Town Moderator Michael Noferi ruled that Soares' motion was out of order. "Traditionally, in this country, we tend to elect important positions," Soares said.

In discussing the possibility of purchasing the privately held Milford Water Company, Murray said that everyone has an opinion about the utility, but "what all the opinions lack is information." By hiring consultants to use the data garnered in the recent water rate hike case, the town can learn "whether or not it is feasible or practical to buy the water company."

Speaking out against the $100,000 spending request was Cosentino, who said, "I think it's ridiculous," Referring to the Finance Committee, Niro noted, "I'm suggesting that for no cost, these geniuses here, could give us the figures." Added Cimino, "I don't know why we want to own the water company."

Other Town Meeting Members supported the article. "I agree that this is an opportunity to get information," DeLuzio said.

"It kills me to think we're going to spend 100 grand for information," stated Alberto Correia. "This time it's worth it. Anybody see your water bill lately? Four years ago, it hurt. Now, it's absolutely painful.

Town Clerk Amy Neves said that 164 Town Meeting Members attended Monday night's meeting.


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