- City Government
- City Council & Committee of the Whole
- 2023 City Clerk and City Treasurer Referendums
2023 City Clerk and City Treasurer Referendums
The City of Batavia has placed two referendums on the ballot for the Consolidated Election on April 4, 2023. The questions are:
Shall the elected office of the City Clerk of the City of Batavia be abolished and the duties of the City Clerk be assigned to an appointed City Clerk?
Shall the elected office of the City Treasurer of the City of Batavia be abolished and the duties of the City Treasurer be assigned to the City Finance Director at no additional cost to the City?
Recent challenges to filling these two roles are the primary reason for the referendum.
In the past two elections, Batavia has had only one candidate for the position of clerk and each has decided not to run for re-election after their initial term. The responsibilities of a city clerk exceed what can reasonably be expected from someone with other full-time employment which drastically limits the pool of potential candidates. Both have indicated the workload was the most significant factor in their decision. Clerks have indicated the workload is such that there is no capacity to undertake larger projects such as organization, transparency, and other constituent services. A dedicated position could better provide those services.
In the 2021 election, there were no candidates for the position of city treasurer. While the city’s finance director would have been the most appropriate choice for appointment to the role, this was not possible because the person holding the position did not meet the city’s residency requirements, another limitation of this position being elected versus appointed. Instead, the city’s utility billing supervisor, a Batavia resident, was appointed to the role.
Moving the responsibilities to the city finance director position would eliminate the need for an elected position. The duties of the position would be assigned to the finance director, which is an appointed position.
Jan. 17, 2023, the Batavia City Council voted to place the two questions for the binding public referendums on the April 4 ballot.
Below are some answers regarding the referenda.
- What is the role of the city clerk?
The city clerk’s duties include calling role at all city council meetings, overseeing the preparation of the minutes for those meetings, attesting to signatures, signing various city documents, maintaining city records, and providing and accepting petitions for local municipal elections. Of these, maintaining city records has been the biggest challenge for elected clerks.
The city clerk is a non-voting member of the city council.
- What is the role of the city treasurer?
The city’s treasurer’s role includes receiving all money paid to the city, paying city bills upon order of the city clerk and mayor, maintaining financial records, creating monthly reports for the city council showing the city’s finances and amounts received and spent during the month, and other clerical duties related to the city’s finances. Aside from signing documents where the treasurer’s signature is required, all of these functions are currently performed by the Finance Director.
The city treasurer is a non-voting member of the city council.
- Are the clerk and treasurer positions currently paid positions?
Yes. The city clerk is paid $7,370 annually. The city treasurer is paid $600 annually.
- Why are referendums necessary?
A change to the form of government can only be made through the process of a binding public referendum.
- What are the advantages of switching the city clerk and city treasurer to appointed roles?
A city clerk and city treasurer selected by the mayor with advice from city staff and consent of the city council, and those appointed would be selected based on qualifications and abilities for each position. Those holding the positions would be subject to performance review and continual accountability outside of the elections by the mayor and aldermen. The city clerk and city treasurer would be city staff members who would have the training to perform their duties.
- What are the advantages of keeping the clerk and treasurer in elected positions?
Voters select the clerk and treasurer, and those positions would remain accountable to voters only. Those holding the positions could be voted out of office at subsequent elections.
- What are the disadvantages of switching the clerk and treasurer to appointed positions?
Voters would have no say in the selection for the position and cannot supervise their performance through the election process. The positions cannot be voted out, and any termination must be approved by the mayor and city council.
- What are the disadvantages of keeping the clerk and treasurer in appointed positions?
There are no qualification requirements for the positions and performance cannot be supervised except through the election process. Selection is limited to those candidates who chose to run for the position.
- What does it mean if I vote “yes” on the referendum questions?
Voting yes on each individual referendum question indicates your preference for the city clerk or the city treasurer to be appointed by the mayor with the concurrence of the city council.
- What does it mean if I vote “no” on the referendum questions?
Voting no on each individual referendum question indicates your preference for the position to be elected. For both positions, candidates would need to run for office in 2025.
- If the referendums both pass, when will the changes take effect?
The appointment process would go into effect after the current terms of the treasurer and clerk expire, or if the position becomes vacant during the term.