CONCORD -- Voters in November will decide whether they want to turn over the responsibility of choosing a city treasurer to City Hall, a switch officials have said is overdue and will save money.
But one a critic says that switch would remove an important "check and balance."
Resident Louis Mazzarella, who ran and lost in both a city council race in 1978 and a city clerk race in 1985, has filed an argument against the council-approved measure with the City Clerk's Office.
"The voters won't have any say" if the measure passes, Mazzarella said. "I believe with the elected treasurer the people always have a clear-tone voice in municipal government."
The measure placed by council on the Nov. 6 ballot asks voters if the city treasurer position should be appointed instead of elected.
The tradition of electing treasurers has waned. State law allows cities to appoint someone to the position, and 307 of 480 cities statewide and 12 of 19 cities in Contra Costa County have decided to do so.
Anyone over 18 and registered to vote can run to be the Concord city treasurer. Thomas Wentling, a former councilman, has held the position since 1986. Wentling supports the measure.
"It's a position that's not really serving the purpose anymore," said Vice Mayor Bill Shinn. "The city treasurer himself recommends getting rid of the position and having an appointed position."
Interim City Manager Valerie Barone has said the position
If approved, the measure would eliminate one position, saving the city approximately $24,000 a year, according to Barone. It would be effective at the end of Wentling's current term -- which expires in 2014 -- or sooner if he chooses to resign.
In 2008, voters chose to make the city clerk position an appointed one. The job of appointing now belongs to the city manager.
At previous council meetings, Mayor Ron Leone expressed ambivalence toward the measure, referencing the infamous corruption scandal in the Southern California city of Bell.
"It's making sure that we have checks and balances, somebody that's answerable to the public looking over the finances," said Leone.
Leone ultimately supported the measure going on the ballot and urged council members not to relinquish the authority to appoint a treasurer to city staff.
The deadline for filing arguments for and against the measure is Aug. 10. If multiple arguments are filed on either side, City Clerk Mary Rae Lehman and City Attorney Mark Coon will decide which to use.
David DeBolt covers Concord and Clayton. Contact him at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.