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Frosty reception for government reform ideas

"The reason, really quite simply, is history," he said. "Those were the only jobs in town, basically, in 1900."

The report also suggests an all-appointed staff could mean opportunities for efficiencies and consolidation, though no specific savings have been identified.

Being elected gives the department head great autonomy, said 20/20's Susan Hager. That could conceivably hinder or scuttle consolidation and efficiency efforts should standoffish people end up in office.

"You can suggest, but you can't create, a plan and make it happen unless there's consensus on all sides," she said of the current system.

She added that most people don't realize what relatively limited power the supervisor has right now, having the authority to make only one direct appointment: his or her confidential secretary.

The committee envisions the supervisor bringing nominations for department heads to be vetted and approved by the full Town Board, much as in the federal government.

"We feel they don't have enough power to do what they need to do," Hager said of the Town Board, running off a list of problems including crumbling infrastructure and the need to attract business. "We think we need to empower our elected officials to be able to move more quickly to solve problems."

Extending the supervisor's term is a concept that has received at least tacit approval from former supervisors, but again there were members of the public who said the change is a challenge to the democratic process.

Some residents said they like being able to toss out their leaders if need be, and even change up the majority of the board (the supervisor and two councilpersons) every two years. Stretching the supervisor's term would mean that option would be available every four years.

"One of the nice things we have now is staggered town council positions. ... That's an extremely important function," said resident Jared King.

King added he doesn't think more power should be placed in the supervisor's office.

"He's not really a mayor, and I don't think I'd like to see him in that light," he said.

The 20/20 Committee and proponents of the change argued two years isn't enough time to do the increasingly complex job and tackle issues.

There will be a similar public meeting at the June 8 meeting of the Town Board. The board convenes at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, and the plan is to leave plenty of time for public comment at that meeting.""

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