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Local News

April 2, 2013

Wenham considers town clerk change

WENHAM — Since 1644, residents in Wenham have elected the town clerk. Now, selectmen are looking to change the post to an appointed one.

Selectman Molly Martins said the proposal came out of the Government Study Committee, a group appointed by selectmen in 2011 to study the town’s operations and look for ways to increase efficiency.

“I think the increase in complexity of municipal government requires us to look at this and make these changes,” she said.

The board is also recommending that the tree warden be changed from an elected to an appointed position.

Selectmen would have to approve the appointments. The town clerk is currently elected annually.

The study group recommended the change because both positions are responsible for delivering town services, rather than establishing policy, according to the group’s report. The tree warden is responsible for the care and control of all public shade trees and shrubs, except on state highways.

“Those seemed to be the two operational positions that are still elected,” Martins said. “As a matter of efficiency and operational management of the town, the board agreed with the government study.”

While the proposed changes appear on this year’s Town Meeting warrant, selectmen are planning to recommend a motion to postpone the move until a future meeting for further study and consideration, Martins said. The decision was made at a joint meeting with the Government Study Committee at the end of last week.

Such a change in town government would require a ballot-box vote, but it would have to wait until next year’s election.

“There was no need to rush,” Martins said. “It didn’t need to go before this Town Meeting.”

The town clerks in Hamilton and Marblehead are elected to three-year terms, while the clerks in Danvers, Ipswich and Swampscott are appointed.

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