The single clerk in a small Maine town resigned after the board of selectmen denied her vacation request.
Christen Bouchard is the town clerk in Passadumkeag, Maine, since 2020. She requested a two-week vacation about a month and a half ago. Her plea was denied by the board of selectmen. They claimed that no one was available to step in for her.
She left on April 7. The town has been without someone to register vehicles, keep crucial records, or communicate with the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
The position of town clerk isn't the only important opening in Passadumkeag. The town of 356 people also lacks a code enforcement officer, an assessor, an animal control officer, and a school administration official, according to The Bangor Daily News.
The town office shut down to in-person visitors until further notice, according to a statement sent out on April 19.
“The Treasurer will be in a couple days a week to accept payments on things such as taxes,” the statement read.“Please call the office before heading out to do any business here as there are no designated hours of operation now.”
Treasurer Barbara Boyer has apparently been coming into the office to collect tax payments. Still, she is reportedly unable to register vehicles, do building inspections, conduct animal welfare checks, or undertake many of the other tasks that Ms. Bouchard was responsible for.
An Independent call to the town office went unanswered on Wednesday.
It's unclear when the town will be able to fill the vacant positions and reopen for business. After town officials failed to sufficiently explain the reasoning for a planned pay increase, town citizens rejected a budget article meant to fund local operations in March. A code enforcement officer, which is required by Maine law, was also not included in the budget piece.
A mess from years of neglect
Town officials informed the Bangor Daily News that they are difficult to fill the open posts due to financial uncertainties. It is also due to the town's small population, and the municipal roles being only part-time. Ms. Bouchard only had to work 16 hours every week. She says, she regularly worked more and she was paid only $13,500 per year.
“We have been left with a mess from years of neglect and are doing as much as we can to get our town back in order,” first selectman Brad McKechnie said.
“I do believe in time with the team we have, we will get Passadumkeag back in order and looking good, but it will take a bit and is going to be a challenge for sure.”
For the time being, inhabitants of Passadumkeag are relying on selectmen and other municipalities to perform fundamental governmental responsibilities. It includes getting registering their cars in the nearby municipality of Howland.
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