WATSON Town officials are once again considering a switch of their highway superintendent position from elected to appointed.
Its getting harder and harder to get people to take these jobs, Watson Supervisor Virgil E. Taylor said.
The Town Council will hold a public hearing at 8:15 p.m. today at the town office, 6965 Number Four Road, on a proposed law authorizing the switch. The board meeting begins at 7 p.m.
If council members approve the proposal, it still would need to be approved by a majority of town voters in the November general election before it can be adopted for the 2013 election.
We said wed put it up and see what the people thought, Mr. Taylor said.
Town Highway Superintendent Robert D. Dosztan, who was elected to a two-year term last fall, likely will retire in the next couple of years, potentially leaving town leaders searching for someone else to run for the position, he said.
We had such a hard time trying to get one to run before, Mr. Taylor said.
While the post carries an annual salary of $40,500, town residents with steady jobs have been hesitant to commit to running for the job, given that they could be voted out of office after two years, he said.
Even a current highway worker, after successfully running for highway chief, would lose his seniority if he were to return to the highway crew following defeat in a subsequent election, Mr. Taylor said.
He would go back as a new employee, he said. Its kind of hard for a guy to make that decision.
Switching the position to an appointed one should offer more stability for prospective candidates, Mr. Taylor said.
A public referendum on the matter must take place in a year when the post is not up for re-election, like this year, he said.
The supervisor said he hopes to get input on the idea from town residents at tonights hearing and, if the plan moves forward, at the voting booth. Its up to the people, he said.
The Watson Town Council in 2003 also attempted to change to an appointed superintendent. However, town voters in a special election easily turned down the measure, with opponents citing the desire to keep their voting rights.
Greig and Denmark also sought to make the switch in 2004, but residents in those towns voted down their respective propositions, as well.
Lowville is the only town in Lewis County with an appointed highway superintendent.