SKOWHEGAN — Selectmen will decide Tuesday night whether to put a proposal on the Town Meeting warrant in June that would ask voters to change some positions filled by election to ones appointed by the town manager.

The meeting of the Board of Selectmen, which will include a public hearing on an ordinance governing controlled substance facilities, such as a methadone clinic, and licenses for the new Kennebec Valley Inn, is set for 5:30 p.m. in the council room at the Town Office on Water Street.

The question of changing the positions of town clerk, town treasurer and road commissioner from being elected posts to appointed ones first was raised at a January meeting of the board. The debate has been raised several times over the past years but was never approved by voters, who have the final say on the matter.

Board Chairman Donald Skillings said he was asked to bring the issue to the board, noting concerns that in future elections a person who is not qualified could unseat Greg Dore, the elected road commissioner, or Gail Pelotte, the elected town clerk and treasurer.

“No one has to have that skill-set to be elected,” Skillings said at the Jan. 12 meeting. “That would be frightening to me.”

Skillings pointed to problems with an elected official in the town of Anson and at the Registry of Deeds at the county level as driving his move to place the question before voters. In Anson, residents in November voted to change the tax collector job from elected to appointive in the wake of the case of Claudia Viles, who is charged with tax fraud. In Somerset County, Diane Godin has battled officials over her Registry of Deeds position that she was elected to and has refused to resign even after she was stripped of most authority and pay.

Selectmen Paul York and Soren Siren agreed with Skillings, saying it would be a risk having someone run for town clerk and not have the knowledge that the current office holder has.

Dore, 60, has been Skowhegan’s elected road commissioner for 23 years. He has been challenged for the job every three years, but has prevailed each time.

Skowhegan Town Clerk and Treasurer Gail Pelotte was re-elected unopposed for a three-year term in 2015. Pelotte, 55, is in her third three-year term.

The town treasurer is responsible for overseeing the town’s accounting, investment, billing and financial reporting activities. Day-to-day responsibilities include billing, money collection, the investment and oversight of town money and the preparation of financial reports for municipal officers and others.

The town clerk is responsible for elections, data collection and all records kept by the town.

The road commissioner in Skowhegan oversees the Highway Department’s annual budget of about $1.8 million.

Appointing local officials assures accountability, some have said. Electing a town clerk or a road commissioner avoids the cronyism or the politics of having an appointment made by the town, others say.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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