CANTON — When voters in the town of Canton head to the polls Nov. 5, they’ll be voting on a proposition on whether the town highway superintendent job should continue as an elected position or become one that’s appointed by the Town Board.
Earlier this year, the Town Board approved scheduling the public referendum to allow residents the chance to vote on a proposed local law that would abolish the elected position of town highway superintendent and replace it with an appointed town highway superintendent position.
The new law also gives the Canton Town Board authority to appoint all the town highway department employees. Under the existing system, the elected highway superintendent has the authority to appoint those employees.
If voters approve the law, the change would take effect Jan. 1, 2022.
The proposed law requires the highway superintendent to reside within the town of Canton. The Town Board would have the authority to appoint the highway superintendent and set the salary. Appointments would be made for four years.
Longtime Highway Superintendent Terry L. Billings, 67, has said he’s not running for re-election when his current four-year term expires Dec. 31, 2021.
He’s held the job for the past 25 years and prior to that spent 25 years as a law enforcement officer with the military, the city of Ogdensburg and the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputy Town Supervisor Robert J. Washo has said he supports switching to an appointed highway supervisor because the job has become increasingly complex over the years.
As it stands now, anyone who is 18 years or older can run for the position.
The department maintains about 100 miles of roads and has eight workers who report to Mr. Billings.
In 1993, Canton residents overwhelmingly defeated a proposal to switch the job from an elected to an appointed position.