By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – An advisory referendum going before village voters Tuesday, April 7, asks whether they favor switching from an elected to an appointed clerk-treasurer.
The advisory referendum states: “Should the Village of Ashwaubenon charter ordinance be amended to provide for an appointed (instead of an elected) clerk-treasurer in order to allow the treasurer duties to be absorbed by current staff and ensure the most qualified candidate for the clerk position due to the training and expertise necessary to run elections and other essential administrative functions?”
The village is looking at making the switch with the possibility of Ashwaubenon’s elected clerk-treasurer, Patrick Moynihan Jr., leaving the position.
Moynihan was re-elected last April to a new-three year term.
He is also the county board chairman, but is not running for a new two-year term this spring as a county supervisor leading up to seeking election this fall to a four-year term as county clerk.
If elected county clerk in November, Moynihan said he will resign from the village on Jan. 5, 2021.
Moynihan, who was elected Ashwaubenon’s treasurer in the spring of 2013, was appointed by the village board to also be the clerk after the elected clerk, Dawn Collins, resigned in the fall of 2014.
The board also combined the positions of clerk and treasurer into one elected position.
Village President Mary Kardoskee said Ashwaubenon has been fortunate in the past with the person elected village clerk doing a good job, but that may not be the case in the future if it remains an elected position.
The only qualifications are being at least 18 years old and a village resident.
Kardoskee said an elected clerk is accountable to village voters, but that wouldn’t ensure the person in the position would show up for work and do the job properly.
However, she said she would not want to take away the right of residents to vote for the clerk-treasurer position unless they would favor a referendum to relinquish that right.
In light of Moynihan’s possible departure, Village Manager Allison Swanson recommended the positions of clerk and treasurer be separately appointed by the board, rather than elected, with the clerk position remaining full-time and the position of treasurer being absorbed by the finance director.
The village’s current finance director, Greg Wenholz, now serves as both the finance director and deputy treasurer.
Except for Ashwaubenon, Swanson said all the municipal clerk and treasurer positions in the Green Bay metro area are appointed.
Should the village board amend the charter ordinance, she said it could appoint a clerk when the position would become vacant, such as if Moynihan would be elected county clerk this fall and then resign.
Because the referendum is advisory in nature, the board could still decide to amend the charter ordinance even if the question wouldn’t receive majority support from village voters.
This marks the second time in recent years village voters will be asked about the clerk and treasurer.
In 2013, a referendum failed to change the positions from elected to appointed.