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New Ipswich seeking solution to fill clerk’s office duties

  • Town of New Ipswich. (BEN CONANT / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Copyright Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to news@ledgertranscript.com. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/14/2020 4:07:45 PM

New Ipswich is struggling to keep up with demand and scrambling for potential solutions while the town clerk is out of the office – potentially for the next several months.

Town Clerk and Tax Collector Jessica Olson is currently out of the office, due to her health, Select Board Chair David Lage said during a Select Board meeting on Tuesday. While Olson has been coming into the office periodically to fulfill tasks, she has not been able to open the office to the public. Town Administrator Scott Butcher reported to the Select Board that in conversations with Olson, it is likely that she may not be able to resume her normal hours for the rest of the calendar year.

The town clerk is an elected position and by law, has the right to set their own hours.

The town currently does not have a deputy town clerk, leaving the office empty and sporadically staffed. Last week, there was only one day the clerk’s office was open. However, demand was so high that even though the clerk’s posted hours that day ended at six, the staff was there until nearly 9 p.m., because of the long line of people wanting to access the clerk’s services.

Butcher said the town must start aggressively looking for an assistant town clerk, but said that process is complicated by the certifications needed for the position, noting that the town would not be in a position to get a new hire the training if they do not already have experience.

“The challenge is to find someone who already has those certifications,” Butcher said.

Butcher said he has already begun the process of reaching out to clerks in the surrounding area to see if anyone would be willing to step in for a shift outside of their own clerk’s duties, on the evenings or weekends, while New Ipswich searches for a permanent assistant to man the office.

While a substitute clerk could assist with things such as motor vehicle registrations and other clerk duties, certain election processes must be done by a town resident. Butcher said he is still seeking a solution to that issue.

Butcher asked for patience as the town works toward a permanent solution.

“We know it’s frustrating. We’re doing the best we can,” he said.

In the meantime, residents are encouraged to use online processes for paying taxes and registering motor vehicles. Absentee ballot request forms can be found on the town clerk department’s page on the town website or on the Secretary of State’s website. Absentee ballots can still be mailed to the town clerk’s office. Moderator Robert Romerill told the Select Board that ballots sent to residents from the town office are not being sent out of town for sorting, and are being delivered directly to reduce mailing time. Residents can also use the Secretary of State’s website to check whether they are registered in town, and to track whether their absentee ballot has been received.


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