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Town Clerk's office feeling the effects of staff reductions

July 18, 2012
Town Clerk/Tax Collector Denise Gonyer told Selectmen her office has struggled lately with the loss of two employees during the Selectmen's meeting Wednesday, July 11.

"We are doing whatever is possible, but it's still a sinking ship," Gonyer told Selectmen.

According to Gonyer, she and her remaining staff are unable to keep up with daily responsibilities like filing their daily correspondence. Gonyer said this affects filing time, and keeps notices from going out in a timely manner, and they have received an increasing number of complaints at their front desk.

For instance, Gonyer said neither she nor her staff had time to make follow-up calls to remind dog owners to register their pets because of staff reductions. This led to police having to deal with about twice their average annual delinquent dog owners.

"We did not have the time or staff to do it," said Gonyer.

Selectman Kevin Hayes suggested Gonyer only do what is required by law, and expect residents to be responsible for their annual registrations.

"When does it become their responsibility?" asked Hayes.

"It's not our responsibility to babysit dog owners," said Gonyer, who said they also stopped sending postcard reminders to save money. "It's not a requirement. We do it as a courtesy."

While preparing the 2012 budget, Gonyer and the selectmen debated whether or not to add a 24 hour per week, part-time position after selectmen planned to eliminate one full-time position.

During the meeting Wednesday, Selectmen approved a department study by Municipal Resources Inc. to identify any staffing needs in the Town Clerk Tax Collector office.

"Obviously, we have issues. We hope the study finds them," said Hayes.

In other business, Selectmen continued their efforts to regionalize police dispatch with a letter to the Belknap County Commissioners encouraging a study to develop a "county-wide, regional police emergency dispatch communication system that is similar to the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association" with a fee system for participating municipalities.

Selectmen authorized Gilford Police Chief Kevin Keenan to participate in the process as an advocate, and assist in any way.

Finally, Selectmen decided to change their plans for their public safety worker memorial park after New Hampshire Department of Transportation representatives were unwilling to allow Selectmen to erect a flag pole in the grass triangle at the junction of Route 11-A and Route 11-B.

According to Town Administrator Scott Dunn, NH-DOT officials expressed concern over the liability of having the flagpole and vehicles parked in the triangle.

Selectman John O'Brien said the concern over the flagpole was absurd because there is already a utility pole in the triangle.

Additionally, Selectmen estimated that the conversion to a T-intersection could take up to five years to finish.

Unwilling to go against the NH-DOT advisement and possible face a legal battle, Selectmen decided to move their proposed public safety worker memorial park to town property on the other side of Route 11-A, next to the old Gunstock Outing Club warming hut.

In the Public Input session, Keenan announced a fundraiser event at Patrick's Pub and Eatery to raise money for preventative surgery for the Ike, the new police dog.

According to Keenan, Allen Beetle, with Patrick's Pub, pledged to donate 50 percent of the proceeds of each meal to help cover the cost of Ike's surgery.

The event is July 24 from 5 to 8 p.m., and Keenan thanked Beetle for his his generosity.

Selectmen announced the date for the annual Summer Town Forum as Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Gilford Town Hall.

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