Hero Clerk Shuts Maine Town Down, Quits Job After Being Refused Vacation Time
Passadumkeag, Maine, has had to almost completely shut down following the resignation of Christen Bouchard, their only town clerk, who quit in April after she was told by the board of selectmen that she couldn't take a two-week vacation because there was no one to cover her while she was gone.
Bouchard was only contracted to work 16 hours a week, though she says she frequently worked more, and was only paid $13,500 a year.
“I came in on my days off to complete certain tasks, because 16 hours a week is just not enough to do everything that needed to be done over there,” Bouchard told the Bangor Daily News, which noted that on most days she was the only person in the town office residents could speak to.
Shockingly, the town has had trouble finding someone else to do that. The town treasurer, Barbara Boyer, has stepped in to take care of some of her duties, but has been unable to do others, like "register vehicles, do building inspections, conduct animal welfare checks" and other tasks Bouchard was responsible for.
Via Bangor Daily News:
The town has been advertising for positions in the Lincoln News, which first reported the vacancies, Boyer said.
“The market right now for qualified employees that are looking to work part time is very difficult,” Boyer said, citing Passadumkeag’s small population of about 350 residents. “We’re doing what we can to keep everything going.”
She directed further questions to the board of selectmen.
First selectman Brad McKechnie said he was unaware of Bouchard’s vacation request or the role it played in her resignation. Jana Spencer, the chair of the board of selectmen, is handling concealed weapons permits for Passadumkeag residents, he said.
“We have been left with a mess from years of neglect and are doing as much as we can to get our town back in order,” McKechnie said. “I do believe in time with the team we have, we will get Passadumkeag back in order and looking good, but it will take a bit and is going to be a challenge for sure.”
The town also reportedly lacks "an assessor, an animal control officer, and a school administration official."
This comes after the town of 356 voted down a measure to increase the town operations budget, and to increase the Municipal Salary budget from $37,750 to $50,900. To be fair, the outgoing selectman who put the increase in the budget did not show up to the town meeting about the budget and none of the other selectmen could explain what it was for. It's not a fabulously well-off area — the median household income for the area is $49,167 — so it is understandable that people wanted things explained to them before agreeing to a budget.
That being said — if people want services, if towns want services, if they want employees, they have to pay for them. There's just not another option besides slavery. Anyone who has ever worked in a perpetually understaffed situation has heard the "You can't take time off because there's no one to work your shifts" spiel, and the more people refuse to just suck it up because "We're all in this together!," the better things will be for all workers.
AND NOW IT IS YOUR OPEN THREAD! Enjoy! Talk amongst yourselves, I am gonna go watch some Murder She Wrote.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse