More personnel hassles for SWH; town offices to limit hours for last week of year

SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Dec. 15, 2020 – Add the deputy town clerk, deputy tax collector and registrar of voters to the recent list of town vacancies. Debbie Clark, who did all those jobs, is leaving to take a position with the water and sewer commission.

This has resulted in the closing of town offices the week after Christmas to licensing and registration services except for Dec. 30. Town Manager Justin VanDongen announced the news at the selectmen’s meeting Dec. 8, which promoted a testy exchange between him and selectman George Jellison Jr.

“I don’t see any way we can close that office,” Jellison said, challenging VanDongen’s recommendation. “I assume Justin that you can register cars and such and take tax payments … I assume Jesse can too (code enforcement office Jesse Dunbar)?

“I mean that’s the last year-end people pay their taxes before the first of the year to get deductions for the year … That’s not acceptable to me to close the town office the last week between Christmas and New Year.”

“Is Justin certified?” Jellison said in asking whether VanDongen was a certified motor vehicle agent.

“I’m not a motor vehicle agent, no,” VanDogen replied.

“What’s the problem?” Jellison asked. “You should be.”

“It would be the first time I’ve ever heard wanting a town manager to be certified as a DMV agent,” VanDongen said. “If it’s something the board would like, I’d be happy to do it. I think it would be a waste of my time, but it’s up to you guys.”

After more conversation, the board approved VanDongen’s recommendation 5-0, including a yes vote from Jellison.

The town has since posted on its website:

“The week of December 28th, the office will be open for Code Enforcement with regular hours.  The lobby will be closed to business all week except for Wednesday December 30th.  We will close on New Year’s eve at 3:00 P.M. and be closed New Year’s Day.”

In addition to Debbie Clark, the town has vacancies for the harbormaster and deputy harbormaster positions. Recently, the town voiced concern at the inability of the local ambulance service, a private entity, to fully staff 24-7 calls.

Jellison could not reached for comment.

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