Castleton town clerk’s hours clarified
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | April 24,2013
CASTLETON — The town clerk will now work from her office 35 hours a week, though she might not be available for all of that time.
Town officials and Town Clerk Katy Thornblade agreed Monday night that she will physically be in her office for those hours, though the office won’t necessarily be open.
This is an effort to prevent Thornblade from taking work home and logging work hours during the weekend.
“Whether she is open, it is not under our purview,” said Select Board Chairman Thomas Ettori. “She is allowed to set her own hours. This is eliminating her from taking it home.”
Thornblade said there are two times in the year — during elections and dog registration — that a lot of “junk work” needs to be done and she cannot complete it all when people are continually coming into her office.
Prior to the board’s action, the town clerk opened her office for 31 hours a week, Monday through Thursday, and either worked another four hours or took work home on Fridays. By statute, the town clerk is allowed to set her own hours.
This schedule raised grievances from residents and attorneys who wanted the office to be open every day. It got to the point that recently the clerk was paid only for the hours she worked at the office.
Thornblade said she fought this before agreeing not to take home work and to be in her office for 35 hours. She said, though, her “open” hours will not change.
Town officials also voted to pay Thornblade for the one hour a week she walks as part of the town’s wellness program, as long as the walk occurs during office hours.
Ettori said other town employees are compensated for the hour they walk during work hours and the town clerk should, too.
Also at the meeting, the Select Board voted to add $2,500 to the town constables’ budget to help them get through the end of the fiscal year. The money can only be used for personal services and mileage.
According to Ettori, the constables have spent nearly 99 percent of their $23,202 budget with more than two months left in the fiscal year ending June 30.
The board’s decision Monday night was met with dissension by a handful of residents who felt that if the constables had spent all of their budget, the town should cut them off as other towns do.
James Leamy, a former selectman, said he supports local law enforcement, but said all departments need to work within the budget that was approved by town voters.
“What kinds of sense of fiscal responsibility are we going to show the departments?,” he said. “Be careful of the precedents you might be setting.”
Board members disagreed, saying that college parties are expected to increase as the weather gets warmer and the end of the school year approaches, so a greater police presence is needed in town.