NORRIDGEWOCK — Residents will again consider changing the jobs of town clerk and treasurer from elective to appointive after a recent petition was brought to town officials following the resignation of the elected town clerk in December.

The upcoming referendum marks at least the fourth time in the last six years that Norridgewock has voted on making the town clerk and treasurer positions appointive rather than elective and will take place at the March 7 Town Meeting.

A public hearing on the proposed change is scheduled to take place at the beginning of Wednesday’s regular Board of Selectmen’s meeting at 6 p.m. at the Town Office. The issue will then be voted on by secret ballot at the annual Town Meeting.

Town Clerk Kerri Everett resigned in December saying the amount of time required for the job was not worth the pay.

It’s not clear who brought the petition to town officials seeking the change in the jobs. Town Manager Richard LaBelle said he did not have an opinion on either option, saying the choice is up to voters. If residents do decide to appoint a town clerk and treasurer, the change would not take effect until 2017.

“At the end of the day, it’s an issue that’s been put before the town before and will be sent to the people once again,” LaBelle said.

He said he did not know who submitted the petition, but that it “far exceeded” the number of signatures required to send an initiative to referendum. Under state law signatures of at least 10 percent of the number of registered voters to vote in the last gubernatorial election are required in any municipality to send an issue to referendum.

Norridgewock is one of several central Maine communities to recently consider the issue of how town government employees are chosen with Anson, Benton and Skowhegan also implementing or considering changes to the positions of town clerk, treasurer or tax collector.

In Norridgewock, both town clerk and treasurer are elective one-year positions. The town’s 2016 budget includes $3,500 budgeted for the position of town clerk and $2,500 for treasurer.

LaBelle said it is possible that if residents reject the referendum, it would be possible to budget more money for the positions in 2017.

No one is running for the office of town clerk this year, though Jessica Everett, the current town treasurer, is running for re-election. She did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

Neither the town clerk nor the treasurer currently keep regular hours at the town office, but rather come in on an as-needed basis, LaBelle said, though he added that there is work to be done weekly for each job.

“There’s a variety of assignments required of the town clerk that people tend to need often, whether it’s vital records like birth or death certificates or marriage certificates,” he said. “They also work closely with the sexton for cemetery control. It varies. There’s also dog licensing, and this time of year they’re preparing for elections.”

The town treasurer is typically required to sign off on various expenditures each week.

In December, former town clerk Kerri Everett, who held the position since 2012, resigned saying that the amount of time required to perform the job was not worth the pay. Everett did not respond to a call seeking comment Friday.

Following her resignation, the Board of Selectmen appointed office clerk Sharon Dodge interim town clerk and Kelly Green, also an office clerk, deputy town clerk. The change meant that residents could begin taking care of town clerk business during all hours that the town office was open. LaBelle said the town clerk stipend has been divided between Dodge and Green and that he was not sure whether the cost of having an appointed clerk and treasurer would be different if the change is approved permanently. Town officials also have not discussed whether the office clerks would remain the appointed town clerks or take on the duties of treasurer.

Selectwoman Charlotte Curtis, who was town clerk before Everett from 1991 to 2012, said earlier this year that she had planned to run for town clerk, but changed her mind after the interim clerks were appointed.

She said she could not have served as an elected town clerk for $3,500 per year and kept the 40-hour-per-week schedule that people have gotten used to.

“There was an awful lot of discontent when I left the office (in 2012), and they didn’t have the service 40 hours per week,” she said. “It’s better to serve the people properly.”

“I would actually rather see them make the job attractive to somebody so people would be able to run for it, but if this is the way things are going to stay (with a $3,500 stipend), then I’m in favor of the change,” she said.

When Curtis held the job of town clerk, she performed her duties along with her regular 40-hour-per-week job as an office clerk. She was fired from her position as an office clerk in February 2012 after making secret audio recordings of conversations at the front desk of the town office, but continued to serve as an elected clerk and treasurer until elections in March 2012.

Office policy has since changed so that office clerks cannot serve as elected town clerks since it would interfere with union regulations.

“People are certainly welcome to come (to the public hearing) and say what they want, but until it’s decided to make the job a real job with real pay, this is probably the way to go,” Curtis said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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