St. Clair residents will continue to elect a city collector after citizens who voted on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that would have made the position an appointed one.
Seventy-one percent of the 226 individuals who cast ballots voted “no.” The official tally was 160-66.
Only about 8.5 percent of the city’s registered voters cast ballots.
The question read: “Shall the position of collector for the city of St. Clair, Missouri, become an appointed position at the expiration of the current term of office?”
Currently, Tiffany Burton is St. Clair’s collector. She ran unopposed on Tuesday and received 190 of the 193 ballots cast.
She will continue to serve in the position for the next two years, filling the remaining term of former Collector Lynne Huff, who was elected two years ago for a four-year term. Huff retired last year after a 20-year career, and Burton was appointed to replace her.
Burton had to be re-elected for the remaining two years. No one filed against her.
If she so chooses, Burton will have to run again for the job in 2016. That is when the position would have become appointed if voters would have approved it.
“I will always respect the wishes of voters,” Mayor Ron Blum told The Missourian on Wednesday. “If this is what they want, that’s the way it is.”
Blum previously had said he was in favor of the city collector being appointed.
“You don’t always get qualified resumes through the election process,” he said prior to Tuesday’s vote. “Anyone can file for any elected position, whether they are qualified or not. If you can appoint an individual to a position, you can make sure that person is qualified.
“I think doing it this way (appointed) allows the city to operate more efficiently and effectively.”
The mayor said he was “extremely disappointed” with Tuesday’s turnout. According to the Franklin County Clerk’s Office, there are 1,335 registered voters in Ward 1 and 1,317 in Ward 2. That adds up to 2,652 within the city limits.
The 226 votes cast on the collector question computes to the 8.5 percent.
“Voting is one way to show respect to the men and women who fought for this right and for our freedom,” Blum said. “It’s pathetic how few showed up to vote. I think it’s disrespectful.”
The city collector is responsible for the billings and collections of all the service debts owed to the municipality, including water, sewer and refuse billings, business licenses and animal registration tags.
Burton said the city currently has about 1,600 water, sewer and trash customers.