KINGFIELD — The majority of voters at a special town meeting Tuesday night agreed to change the town clerk’s job from an elected to an appointed position.
After several minutes of questions for selectmen, 18 residents cast votes to have the town clerk appointed by selectmen. Another 10 residents voted by secret ballot against the change. The change is not a new issue, but selectmen decided to revisit the question before the March town meeting.
According to Board of Selectmen Chairman Rupert Pratt, Lois Barker serves as town clerk until March 2013, and she will not seek the position again.
For several years, selectmen have discussed ways to supplement the hours and responsibilities of the town's office manager, Sandra Mitchell. She also serves as the tax collector, treasurer and bookkeeper. The board explained that they could pay for an assistant who will be able to do the increased accounting and other financial duties without asking for more money from taxpayers.
Currently, the town pays Mitchell's assistant, Pam Kenniston, to do some tasks, but the goal is to have two people who are trained to cover all types of office duties, Pratt said. Merging the town clerk’s position with a part-time assistant will offer more hours of service for the community.
"With this new 24-hour position, we will see a break-even on our budget," Pratt said.
Selectmen have not determined the qualifications for the new position, but they will advertise for a candidate with experience. Today, almost everything involving town records is done by computer, according to Lois Barker. Even birth and death certificates are online now, she said, and the town needs to embrace the technology that is required to process the information.
Depending on the skill level of a new employee, selectmen hope that the town office, which currently is closed on Wednesdays, may be able to offer more hours. Residents will be able to get hunting, fishing and dog licenses, pay taxes, and register vehicles during regular office hours.
Voters also approved funds to pay for landfill testing, a Sandy River Recycling bill, and town garage projects.