With governor’s approval, Deerfield splits town clerk, treasurer/collector roles

  • Deerfield’s Municipal Offices and Police Station on Conway Street. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 11/21/2022 2:35:51 PM

DEERFIELD — With Gov. Charlie Baker’s signature, Deerfield is prepared to seek two full-time employees for the town clerk and treasurer/collector position, which had been conjoined for decades by a special legislative act.

Having been approved by the House of Representatives on Oct. 3 and the Senate on Oct. 20, the legislative act was signed by Gov. Baker on Oct. 31, giving the town the green light to search for permanent staffers. Residents approved seeking the special legislative act splitting the positions during Town Meeting in April.

“We’re so grateful,” Selectboard Chair Trevor McDaniel commented during last week’s Selectboard meeting, thanking state Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Deerfield, and Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, for their efforts in getting the bill passed. “It’s wonderful to have their support.”

Town Administrator Kayce Warren said the town is “making adjustments” to both vacancies and the jobs will be posted shortly. McDaniel said the goal, once the jobs are advertised, is to fill both roles as soon as possible.

“ASAP, as far as I’m concerned,” McDaniel said of the hiring timeline, noting Thanksgiving will slow down the interview process.

The splitting of the positions ends a nearly year-long process that began in January when longtime Town Clerk/Treasurer/Collector Barbara Hancock resigned from the position to take a job elsewhere. To fill the void, Assistant Town Clerk Jennifer Wallace and Assistant Treasurer/Collector Sarah Kimball were given interim titles.

Prior to the split, Deerfield and Southwick were the only two towns in the state to have this three-fold position. Deerfield’s town clerk/treasurer/collector position was created by a special legislative act in 1972. At the time, Warren said previously, having the roles combined “wasn’t unusual.”

After Town Meeting approval in April, the special legislative act went through the typical legislative review procedures before making its way to Baker’s desk. In the meantime, Deerfield hired longtime South Hadley Town Clerk Carlene Hamlin to serve as interim Town Clerk. Wallace also resigned as assistant town clerk, following a long period as the interim clerk.

While awaiting the split, town officials in mid October showed frustration at the slow movement of the bill, which Cameron Lease, Comerford’s former director of communications, explained is a result of the deep review process in place that ensures there are no loopholes or legal questions in approved legislation.

“All bills introduced in the Legislature, regardless of simplicity, must go through the full legislative process before becoming law,” Lease wrote in an Oct. 17 email, before the Senate voted on the bill. “This bill arrived in the Senate one week ago and was sent to the Committee on Bills in the Third Reading. This committee is responsible for reviewing the bill for constitutionality, ensuring it is correctly drafted and that state agencies don’t have concerns about implementing the legislation.”

Once tweaks are made to both job descriptions in the coming days, the town expects to advertise the positions and fill them quickly to take some of the workload off of current Town Hall staff.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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