Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Budget cuts force town clerk's office to close early

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
August 9, 2007

VERNON - Budget and staffing issues are forcing the town clerk to close the office two hours early three days a week for an indefinite period of time, Town Clerk Bernice Dixon says.

Starting Monday, Aug. 20, the town clerk's office will be closed to the public on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 3 p.m.

It had previously been open to 5 p.m. on those days.

Dixon says she is unsure how long the early shutdown will last, and that staffing shortages and budget constraints with an edict for no new hiring has forced the new schedule.

The Town Council had ordered department heads to make across-the-board cuts to their overtime accounts when trying to get the budget passed at referendum.

"It's not like we'll be going home on the days we close early," Dixon added.

Staff still will be working past 3 p.m. on those days, Dixon said, catching up on paperwork and filing uninterrupted. But they will be unable to respond to the constant barrage of new requests from residents, developers, and people doing business with that office after 3 p.m., she said, thus cutting back on the workload.

An integral part of the office, Assistant Town Clerk Karen Pike, who served as recording secretary for the Town Council, resigned from both positions July 5, citing personal reasons.

The heavy workload and lack of funds to hire more staff was a contributing factor, many say.

"Many times, we don't even get to eat lunch - we just work right through because it's so busy," Dixon said.

The office will remain open to the public on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on the traditional business hours for Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Late hours will continue on Thursdays, Dixon said, when the office will remain open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

©Journal Inquirer 2007