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Berlin board of directors considering promotion of assistant clerk | Local News

BERLIN — Rejected in its bid to persuade longtime clerk Rosemary Morse to reconsider her recently tendered resignation, the Select Board is hoping Morse’s assistant will step in when she resigns on June 30.

Stay tuned, as the Board’s initial opening to Deputy Clerk Corinne Cooper was met with a definite Monday night.

It’s not that Cooper isn’t interested in filling the void that will be created by Morse’s unexpected mid-year retirement, but she’s bluntly told board members that she won’t settle for to take over the important slack that will be created when his boss retires without a promotion, a raise and some hired help.

By statute, council members were told that if they took no action, the clerk’s duties would fall to the assistant clerk until the voters filled the vacancy. Realistically, Cooper said, that’s not happening, and if board members think it is, they’ll consider an even emptier office on July 1.

“Would I stay to do this? No,” she said. “Because I don’t want to stay to do more work than what I am doing for a non-living wage. I have said it several times. It’s like that.”

While working as a clerk while being paid as an assistant for several months, she elicited a firm “no” from Cooper, she indicated she was open to an acting appointment.

“Am I interested in the position of clerk? Of course,” she said. “I’ll do that. I’m the logical person.

There were a few caveats.

Cooper said that if she was to spend seven months as town clerk, she wanted to be paid according to the council’s budget for town clerk’s salary before Morse announced his intention to retire.

Salary aside, Cooper said if named acting city clerk, she would seek to fill her current position.

“I’m not willing to work on this alone long term,” she said. “Not at all.”

Cooper said the normal workload warrants two people in the office, and that’s doubly true in an election year that includes the August primaries and November general election.

Board members said they appreciate Cooper’s candor, want her to serve as acting city clerk, but aren’t ready to commit to compensation and that they had unanswered questions about the mechanisms for filling his current position until the town meeting day.

Clerks usually appoint their assistants as Morse did eight years ago when Cooper started what was then a part-time job.

Filling the position could be tricky as the assistant clerk serves at the pleasure of the clerk and voters will elect a new clerk next March. It’s possible it could be Cooper, but the uncertainty could pose a recruiting challenge.

“It adds mud to the water,” said city administrator Vince Conti.

Council members asked Conti to consult with the Secretary of State’s office on the matter, indicated interest in appointing Cooper, but suggested the compensation conversation, while ‘inevitable’, was ‘premature’ .

Coach Carl Parton said his only real reservation about paying Cooper what Morse would have received in the coming financial year was how that decision would be viewed by the woman who served as city clerk for the past 20 years. last years.

“I wouldn’t do anything to insult him,” Parton said of Morse.

Frustration over compensation was among several issues Morse cited in the letter informing the board of his intention to step down on June 30. Specifically, Morse pointed to what she called a fruitless 15-year struggle to restore pay parity to the city clerk. and the city treasurer. The remuneration of the latter position, which was formerly elected, increased when it was appointed by the council.

Parton, who was elected to the board in March, acknowledged the “adversarial” atmosphere that had developed and expressed hope that good communication could boost morale and make everyone happier and more productive.

“We would like everyone here at the municipal office to do the business of the city in the best way possible,” he said.

Board members Joe Staab and David Sawyer said appointing Cooper as acting clerk would be in the best interests of the city.

Given Cooper’s familiarity with the office, council member Flo Smith agreed, suggesting the terms of this arrangement should soon be negotiated.

Cooper said she was open to having the conversation, but made no commitment and said the board was welcome to cast a wider net.

“If you have someone else you want to nominate, I’ll go get something else,” she said.

david.delcore@timesargus.com

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