SOMERVILLE — Big changes to town government are on the Town Meeting warrant this year.

Voters will be asked whether the town treasurer and the town clerk should be appointed rather than elected and whether to elect selectmen to staggered three-year rather than one-year terms.

In addition, the budget in the warrant would take Somerville through June 2014. Thereafter, Town Meeting would take place in June, and the town would run on a July-to-June fiscal year.

First Selectman Susan Greer said it would be easier to operate on the same fiscal year as the state and Regional School Unit 12.

Three-year terms for selectmen, which are already in place in many towns, would reduce the amount of turnover on the select board each year, creating more institutional memory and continuity, Greer said.

If voters approve the change, next year the first selectman will be elected to a one-year term, the second selectman for two years and the third selectman for three years. Each position would be elected to a three-year term after that.

Other articles would allow the select board to appoint the town treasurer and the person who serves as both clerk and administrative assistant. Those positions will be filled via an election this year, and the change would take effect at the end of their one-year terms.

Greer said the nature of town work has changed to require more skills of those workers, especially the treasurer.

“Unless they’re appointed, you really can’t be sure that you’re going to have someone who’s qualified to do the job,” she said.

The 18-month budget recommended by the selectmen totals $595,280, a decrease of 1.2 percent on a monthly basis from the $401,813 budget for 2012.

The budget includes a 39 percent increase to the annual cost of salaries because of changes in job responsibilities, Greer said. The town has split the jobs of tax collector and treasurer and hired the code enforcement officer to also work as plumbing inspector.

Martha Staples and Delta Chase are running to succeed Ernestine Peaslee as clerk and administrative assistant.

For road commissioner, Ruth Dawson is challenging the incumbent, Jesse Turner, and there is a write-in candidate, Hunter Peaslee.

Don Chase, Larry Peaslee and write-in candidate Janice Hisler are running for the position of second selectman, which Staples is vacating to run for clerk.

Peaslee, 59, said he’s running because he’s concerned about how the town will handle the large increase in school taxes that Somerville will experience because RSU 12’s school board has changed the cost allocation for the eight-town school district. Peaslee has prior experience as third selectman and said he can bring a sense of perspective to the select board after living in Somerville for six decades.

Hisler, 74, is a past tax collector for Somerville and said she wants to renew her involvement in town business. “Everybody can contribute something,” she said.

Chase, 51, said he would be a fiscal conservative on the select board and try to keep the municipal budget as lean as possible.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
[email protected]

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