NEWFANE—Long-time Town Clerk Gloria Cristelli isn’t seeking re-election this year. After serving eight years as town clerk — and four years as a Selectboard member — Cristelli told The Commons she is looking forward to her retirement.
To make the transition as smooth as possible upon the new town clerk’s election at Town Meeting Day, Cristelli brought a number of items to the Selectboard at their Jan. 30 regular meeting.
One of Cristelli’s major projects during her tenure was getting the town’s records digitized. Otherwise, the paper records, stored in an aging, too-small vault, could be lost should disaster strike the town office building.
As Cristelli told The Commons in December, 2015, if the town records are destroyed, that means no more property records — and no way for the town to determine who owes property tax.
The matter of using records-restoration funds to digitize the town’s records has been a point of contention between Cristelli and the Selectboard. Some Board members have asserted that money cannot be used to pay staff to digitize the town’s records, but other times they have allowed her to dip into the funds.
Cristelli said there were about 18 books left to digitize, and with help from the Assistant Town Clerk and the Vermont Associates employee (whose salary is paid through a grant), she said she is confident they could finish by the end of Cristelli’s term.
“This month is basically proofreading,” Cristelli said.
The records-restoration fund money comes from fees individuals pay when they submit new records to the town. For every $10 coming into the town clerk’s office, $1 goes into the fund to help towns pay for digitizing records.
Board member Marion Dowling spoke in favor of allowing Cristelli to use the funds. Dowling explained her reasoning: Cristelli has fought and worked hard to get these records digitized, and she wants to see her complete the project before she retires.
Dowling’s colleagues agreed, and authorized Cristelli to use the money to work toward finishing the project, as long as she didn’t go over budget.
Changing of the Guard
Cristelli had two suggestions for the Selectboard upon her retirement: Have some overlap, and change the vault combination.
She requested the Selectboard authorize her to stay a day or two after Town Meeting Day to help the new town clerk acclimate to their job. Cristelli pointed out the upcoming Act 46 education structuring vote, noting the work required of the new town clerk regardless of which way the decision goes.
Cristelli strongly urged the Selectboard to get the vault’s combination changed as soon as possible after the election of the new town clerk. She said she didn’t want any suggestion of responsibility should something happen to the contents after her departure.
The Selectboard took no action on the overlap request. Selectboard Chair Todd Lawley said he would ask Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle to call the locksmith to schedule the change in the vault combination.
Cristelli also submitted to the Selectboard a list of personal items — including desks, tables, cabinets, and benches — she brought to the town office building for her own use, and for the convenience of other employees and the public, that she no longer wants.
She asked the Selectboard if they wanted to purchase the items on the list.
Selectboard Vice-Chair Carol Hatcher asked Cristelli to list prices with each item to help them decide if they wanted to buy them.