For years, residents of Montezuma and Moravia have elected a highway superintendent, but now both towns are looking to change that.
On Election Day, voters in the towns will have the opportunity to approve a new local law to replace the elected position with an appointed one. That would allow the town board to hire a highway superintendent at its own discretion.
Montezuma Town Supervisor John Malenick said the board decided to petition for an appointed position after an incident with the former highway superintendent, Dennis Lapp Jr. Lapp resigned in June after he was accused of double dipping in Brutus.
"What sparked (this) was the situation with Dennis Lapp where the town was not getting what they were paying for," Malenick said. "In other words, he wasn't putting in the time that we expected, the job was not getting done and the town board could basically do nothing about it because he was an elected official."
As it stands, Malenick said there are very few requirements for a person to be elected highway superintendent in Montezuma: a candidate must be at least 18 years old and reside in the town. However, if appointed, the position would require prior experience; it would also allow more people to apply, as candidates could live outside the community.
In addition, Malenick said an appointed highway superintendent could be held accountable if they did not perform their duties.
"The town board has no say in what an elected official does with his or her time, but if it was switched to an appointed position, the board would have full control over the highway superintendent," he said, noting that it would be a full-time position with set hours. "We could set the salary, we could tell the individual what we expected as far as the job description goes ... and if he did not perform, we could dismiss him."
Malenick also said it would allow the town board to hire other highway employees and control the budget; currently, the elected highway superintendent is in charge of hiring and commands roughly 50 percent of the town's budget.
Following Lapp's resignation, the town board hired Dustin Roach as the interim highway superintendent. Roach is now running for the position under the Democratic line as well as the independent line. His opponent, William Futrell, is running as a Republican and Conservative.
Meanwhile, in Moravia, Matt Harrison is currently the acting highway superintendent. There is no one listed on the ballot for 2017, meaning a write-in candidate will ultimately fill the position.
Moravia Town Supervisor Gary Hatfield could not be reached for comment.
If approved, both towns would establish the appointed highway superintendent position effective Jan. 1, 2020.
In other election news:
• Voters in the town of Owasco will decide whether the town supervisor, town clerk and town highway superintendent positions should be changed from two-year to four-year terms. If approved, the change would take effect with the 2019 election, with the term of office beginning Jan. 1, 2020.
• Residents of Onondaga County can vote to place the Onondaga County Department of Correction under the control of the county sheriff. Currently, the Jamesville facility is controlled by the county's executive branch.