LIVERMORE — The majority of voters at a special town meeting Tuesday night, Jan. 17, supported changing town clerk an appointed position and joining a state retirement program for employees. Selectpersons said doing so would help hire and retain employees.

In September Town Clerk Renda Guild and Deputy Clerk Jean Tardif informed selectpersons they would be stepping down at the beginning of 2023. At a special meeting Monday morning, Dec. 26, 2022, selectpersons approved retaining Guild and Tardif on a part-time basis and increasing their pay to $25 per hour until a new town clerk is hired.

Changing the town clerk position from an elected position to one appointed by municipal officers at the end of the current elected term passed 19 to two with some people not voting, Tardif said afterwards.

Guild was re-elected to a two-year town clerk term in April 2022.

The last two candidates interviewed said they wouldn’t leave their current jobs for one that is only one year and four months, Selectperson Scott Richmond said. “In my opinion this is a major thing in getting a town clerk,” he noted. “If we don’t do this, I don’t feel like we are going to get anybody.”

To be a state licensing agent, the town must have someone with at least six months experience, Richmond stated. “If we don’t get a town clerk or somebody with experience before June 1, we are going to lose our state agency (license), won’t be able to register vehicles, give fishing licenses, snowmobile, ATVs,” he noted. “All you would be doing at the town office is taking taxes, for excise taxes would have to go someplace else. I don’t like that option.”


The town clerk position has changed, everything used to be written down, now it is all done on computers and there is training involved, Richmond said. If the position isn’t changed and somebody is elected that doesn’t help because there is no one in the office with experience, he added.

“It is another opportunity being taken away from us,” resident Jack Driscoll said. “It is a shame. How do we know what that person will be like? We are slowly losing our freedoms. Our forefathers buried in [Livermore] cemeteries fought for those freedoms.”

Guild and Tardif have been in town for years, has anyone had problems with them, Driscoll asked.

Resident Brenda Merrill is a former town clerk, tax collector, deputy clerk and registrar. “From experience I can tell you that when [a former clerk] left and I filled in until the person who came to work, it was on the condition that she would run for town clerk in the next election,” she said. “I wanted no part of running for any office, didn’t want to have to worry year to year. We have been fortunate to have Renda and Jean for so many years. That doesn’t mean that is going to happen again. We have had experience with the treasurer the last few years that wasn’t so good.

“For consistency and fiscal responsibility you should hire people who are qualified.”

Resident Andrew Sylvester, who serves on the Regional School Unit 73 Board of Directors, echoed Driscoll’s sentiment about ceding control but said several years ago a treasurer was elected who wasn’t qualified and unable to do the job. “I feel that through our representation on the board the voters have control over it because [selectpersons] can do the job of screening and getting the proper people in place to do the job,” he noted. His only question was did the town have a charter or by-laws that would need updating in order for the change to happen.


“We don’t have a town charter, this has been vetted through our attorney,” Richmond replied. In response to questions regarding the history of the clerk position being elected, he noted, “The position has been elected for as long as I have been alive.”

The town clerk would remain in the position until they decide to leave, Selectperson Chairman Mark Chretien noted in response to a question about how long the appointed term would be. The clerk would start under six months probation, so if they weren’t doing their job changes could be made, he added.

The vote to join the Maine Public Employees Retirement System [Maine PERS] was passed, 22 to two.

The warrant article also included the following:

• The effective date of joining is Feb. 1 and will be available for full-time employees, appointed officials and the elected Town Clerk, who work at least 36 hours per week, 52 weeks per year.

• Eligible Livermore employees and officials electing to join Maine PERS may purchase prior service at their expense.


• The SIMPLE IRA that had been offered employees ceased Dec. 31, 2022.

Resident Jim Manter asked what the cost would be for Maine PERS and where the additional expense would come from in the budget.

The cost would triple, Chretien said. The highway department hasn’t had a full crew all summer, he noted.

“There is enough left in that line, we will be all set this year,” Richmond said. “Next year we will have to increase it.”

It became obvious to selectpersons over the last two years during hiring interviews that not offering Maine PERS was affecting the town’ ability to hire qualified employees, Richmond said.

“This summer we had two people apply for the highway department who had more than 10 years plowing experience,” Richmond noted. “They would have been great to come work for us but it wasn’t in their best interest because we didn’t have Maine PERS and they’ve got 10 years of Maine PERS. They are not leaving that to come to our 401K plan. It doesn’t make any sense.”


Bringing the Maine PERS question to voters was originally going to be done at the annual town meeting in April, but was changed because of the town clerk opening, Richmond said.

Two candidates with five or six years experience between them were interested in the clerk position but they were vested in Maine PERS, Richmond said. “That was one of their reasons for not coming,” he noted. “That is one of the reasons why we brought this article before you tonight, because we need a town clerk.

“Jean and Renda have been nice enough to stay on and help Michelle [Bernier, the new deputy clerk] out. I appreciate that. We would be in a big pickle right now if they didn’t stay, we wouldn’t be registering or licensing anything.”

The other positive with joining Maine PERS is that it encourages employees to stay, rather than hiring them for a time while they gain experience and then move on, Richmond stated. The 30 year old recently hired for the highway department was told of the possibility of joining Maine PERS. “If we don’t join, we are probably going to lose him,” he added.

“I think it is the right thing to do,” Manter said.

Sylvester supported the selectpersons. “I think it is a good idea, we use Maine PERS with the school system,” he noted. “It works very well.”


When asked the number of people that would be using Maine PERS, Chretien said seven employees.

Selectpersons meeting

Nomination papers are now available at the town office, Richmond said. Papers must be returned by Feb. 24 with at least 25 and not more than 50 signatures of registered voters in the town.

Richmond’s three-year and Selectperson Randy Ouellette’s two-year terms are up for election this year. There are no seats to be decided for Regional School Unit 73 directors.

Manter, who is chairman of the Planning Board, addressed the board about the town’s website. “With Aaron [Miller, former administrative assistant] gone no one has access,” he said. “It’s unacceptable. We need to get somebody to get in, post meeting schedules, put minutes in. As a town we need to fix that.”

Chretien said he would talk to Mary Castonguay, the town’s treasurer who has assumed more duties until new staff is hired. “It has been a hard transition,” he stated.


The shoreland map for the amended Shoreland Zoning Ordinance needs to be approved by the state and may need to be updated, Manter said. There is no money budgeted for the Planning Board to do so, he noted.

In November, voters approved amendments to the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance that would give the board more oversight.

“I will try to figure that out, stay ahead of it,” Manter said when Chretien asked him if he could get cost estimates. The current map was created in 1992 or 1993 but who prepared it is not legible, he noted.

“Livermore has more than 26 miles of shoreland,” Manter said. “It pays for a lot for the town.”


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