Batavia to ask voters if 2 city positions should be elected or appointed

Batavia City Hall

Batavia voters will decide if the city clerk and the city treasurer should be changed from elected positions to appointed positions.

The Batavia City Council at its Jan. 17 meeting approved the two referendum questions that will appear on the April 4 ballot.

“Having these be appointed positions allows us to set the criteria for which there are qualifications for these positions,” City Administrator Laura Newman said. “It allows us to hold those in the positions accountable and manage the performance of the work that is performed.”

If the referendums pass, the city treasurer position would be abolished completely, with all duties assumed by the city finance director, according to meeting documents.

“The justification for this is that we have not had a candidate in the last election for the treasurer position and that most of that role is already being performed by the finance director,” Newman said.

According to documents, Batavia Utility Billing Supervisor Jennifer Fox was appointed as treasurer after no one ran for the position during the 2021 election.

Newman said the city clerk position, currently held by Kate Garrett, would be changed to an appointed role because of the position’s heavy workload, which the last two incumbents have noted was too much for someone who already has a full-time job.

“We think it is in the best interest of the city to have these be appointed versus elected positions,” Newman said. “This is no reflection on those individuals who have held those positions.”

Newman said the city clerk position may see a salary increase.

“I think everybody on the council understands here what we’re trying to do to clean [the positions] up so that [they’re] more accurate and manageable and pay what it’s really worth,” Batavia Mayor Jeffery Schielke said. “The city clerk position is quite valuable to us, and when it comes time for election petitions and certifications on referendums and all this other stuff, it’s a pretty vital role.”

Changes to the positions will not take effect until after the current terms for both positions have expired, according to the documents.