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Town Clerk's office continues seeing surge in online business

September 08, 2021
With the advent of the pandemic, more people have been using online town clerk-tax collector services this year than coming to the counter, according to a recent report by the town clerk-tax collector.

Town clerk-tax collector Danielle LaFond gave the board of selectmen an update on her office during the Aug. 11 meeting.

LaFond said people are coming to the counter, though the numbers of people coming in person have been much smaller. By the tax deadlines of 2019, they had around 300 people that year at the counter. In 2020 in the middle of the early pandemic that number was closer to 74. This year so far they have seen 81 people at the counter.

LaFond said more people have been using online services or using the drop box or sending things through the mail.

By contrast, 4,500 different transactions went through the online services in 2020 compared to 2,400 in 2019. So far 2,500 transactions have been done online as of July 31 of this year.

"We do see people, but the numbers are not what they used to be," LaFond said. "The online (option) is really where it seems to be."

Board Chair Gus Benavides said if there are any positives that have come from the COVID-19 situation, it's that a lot more people became comfortable using online services.

"I think in every aspect of our lives certain things became a little more out of necessity and now all of a sudden ppl gravitated to accept it," Benavides said, saying people have found the online option wasn't as hard as it looked.

LaFond said the office has been working with their software company to load tax bills and can now give taxpayers a PDF of their tax information.

Selectman Kevin Hayes asked about the security measures in place to keep residents' information secure. LaFond said they use software by Interware, which works closely with the town's computer provider Mainstay Technologies, to keep information protected.

She said the moment checking account information is accepted and the payment goes through, the system will account number is cleared from the system. For cards, only the last four digits are kept, and the rest of the account number is cleared. LaFond said people will tell them to use the card they have on file, but the office tells them they don't store that number and they have to reenter it with each transaction.

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