Term Lasts Apr. 1 – Dec. 31

By Jann Wiswall

The Town of Mansfield’s board appointed Dale Baldwin to the temporary position of town justice at its meeting on Monday, March 16.  Baldwin will serve in the role, upon completion of an upcoming training, from April 1 through Dec. 31, 2015.

The justice position has been open since former justice Randy Alexander retired, after 28 years in the role, in December. The Town of East Otto’s justice, Dennis Young, has been serving as acting justice.

Board member Greg Meyer also had expressed interest in the position, but withdrew his application during the board meeting.

Baldwin, who currently serves as the town’s court clerk, had offered to fill both the justice and clerk positions. The board agreed to pay a salary of $9,500 to do both jobs.

In November, Baldwin and any other interested candidates may run for election to a full four-year term as justice.

It was previously reported that the election would be to complete the remainder of Alexander’s term. Supervisor Bob Keis explained that new state judicial system rules have changed and partial terms no longer have to be completed.

The appointment of Baldwin comes as the town considers whether to consolidate the Mansfield court with the Town of Ellicottville court. This process begins with a joint study that must be commissioned by both municipalities.

If Ellicottville and Mansfield both agree to the study, additional steps (including public hearings in both municipalities) would be required depending on the results and each board’s desired direction. The process could take as long as a year to complete.

At that point, the Mansfield justice would have the choice of continuing in his/her role until the end of the four-year term or resigning. He/she would be able to run for the consolidated court’s justice position at the appropriate time.

Keis said that he is scheduled to meet with Town of Ellicottville Supervisor John Burrell soon to discuss next steps.

In other business, the highway department has received estimates to purchase a replacement roller. It also is considering trading in its town pickup. Before making a decision on these purchases, Keis said he and Highway Superintendent Brad Hurley will be working on developing a long-term plan for spending the FEMA funds received to reimburse the town for damages caused by May 2014 storms.

As Keis and other board members commented, the FEMA funds don’t all have to be spent in one year and decisions about how to spend it need to be strategic.

The next meeting of the Town of Mansfield’s board will be held Monday, April 20 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall. All are welcome.