FARMINGTON — Selectmen backed off from a suggestion to eliminate a part-time counter person at the Town Office Tuesday, after they learned more about the work performed by office personnel.

When Town Clerk Leanne Pinkham resigned this summer, Selectmen Ryan Morgan and Andrew Hufnagel questioned a restructuring of  personnel to accommodate what they said townspeople see as a low volume office.

Pinkham returned to her job two weeks later but the board and town employees discussed the suggestion Tuesday.

“If there is a perception that it’s not a busy office, then it’s a false perception,” Town Manager Richard Davis said.

While there’s no control over when business comes through the door, the personnel all try to serve people efficiently and are concerned about making people wait, he said. They are cross-trained to handle each other’s work.

“From my observation . . . if there’s no customer at the window, it doesn’t mean that person is not busy,” Davis said. “There’s a ton of data entry, voter registration, absentee ballot and accounts payable work done.”

Voters accepted the 29-hour position in 2001 as a means to keep the Town Office open Wednesdays. A limited budget forced closure on Wednesdays for a number of years.

The cost of the position, $20,227, or about $5 a year on a property valued at $100,000, Davis said. He also suggested that discussion of this budget issue should be done during the budget season.

Representing six employees present for the discussion, town Treasurer Diana Young reinforced Davis’ comments. She said the workload in the office includes mandated reports to the state, voter registrations, record keeping and decades of items being entered and stored by computer.

Hufnagel said he viewed the discussion as an informational, part of an internal effort to save the the town money.

“We did look and she’s needed,” he said.

Selectman Jessica Berry agreed. “A lot of stuff goes on that we don’t see,” he said.

Davis urged the board to make a decision whether to pursue the discussion during budget season so the employee and town officials would know.

The board unanimously agreed to not pursue it.

In other business, the board approved spending up to $1,500 to make improvements to the town’s signboard in West Farmington.

It’s a popular spot for community announcements viewed by more than 20,000 vehicles per day. Reservations for the sign are needed six weeks in advance, Davis said.

The sign is showing wear and the town has “a major problem with letters being rearranged and/or stolen,” he added.

The town intends to repair the signboard by installing a new aluminum face, securing it with a locked cover and using new lettering that is embedded in plastic not painted.

The funds will be taken from the town’s Special Projects account, which has a balance of $2,035.

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