Letter to the editor: What’s going on in the town hall?
What’s going on and why is it taking so long to get what you need? It’s because of the pandemic. Many new challenges have occurred, and each one adds demands on our work as town officials. I am writing to explain my situation as your elected town clerk, but I assure you that other town officials are experiencing similar struggles.
In March, schools and businesses were shut down and a core group of “essential” Lincoln officials continued to work during that time to keep the town running. Since then everyone is back on the job, but some continue to work from home. When the Governor released attorneys, realtors, appraisers, and surveyors to return to work, they slammed us with a surge of about three months worth of records requests. We have not fully recovered from that surge, because the number of requests for information is still unprecedented. Subsequently, the volume of records being filed is also tremendous. People are estate planning, real estate is selling rapidly, and lots of folks are refinancing. Because of this pandemic, business is booming in some parts of our economy and sadly other sectors are very much hurting.
We are now less than three weeks from a very important election. It is my priority to do it right (as always). The number of absentee ballots we are processing is six times what is normal for our town, and in the August election it was 10 times normal. My job as your town clerk is usually 33 hours a week, but since the beginning of July, I have been averaging 57 hours trying to keep up with the demands. Just this past week, I have come to realize that we are losing some ground trying to handle our call volumes, emails, and processing mountains of mail each day. As with big Vermont snowstorms that dump on us, we will eventually dig ourselves out and get caught up. Until Nov. 4, election tasks will be our number one priority.
I appreciate people’s offers to volunteer, but we want to keep our office’s COVID-19 safety “bubble” as small as possible so we can minimize our risks. Our goals are to remain healthy, to remain open, and to continue to do the business of the town. I just hired a new assistant clerk and even though training takes extra time, I feel a boost of energy with her help.
I am definitely not alone in this predicament; clerks all over the country are experiencing similar demands. We are strong, we see our jobs as very important, and we will continue to do our work without cutting corners or losing integrity. I am blown away by what we have accomplished as I look back over these past three months. I am excited about a grant we have received for digitizing more of our land records. The pandemic has given us opportunities to innovate, and we will hopefully learn from these experiences to become more resilient.
In the meantime, I appreciate your patience with us as we adapt to new ways of doing our work. Email is the best way to ask for our assistance right now, and if you can’t get through by phone, leave a message. We will get back to you as soon as we can. In this year 2020 it is hard to predict what is ahead of us. Rest assured that we are doing everything in our power to serve you and we care about you. Be kind to each other, we are all in this together.
Stay well everyone,
Lincoln Town Clerk
There have been five wars in the last 15 years between Israel and Hamas. How do we end the … (read more)
It was the summer of ‘68. Cities across America were erupting in riots, political differen … (read more)