I confronted this issue when I took over as Town Clerk. Ellen Tofferi was
at the Secretary of State's office then and she wrote a letter advising me
that clerks are responsible for their records and that I should change the
combination. I sent a letter to each town officer, letting them know that
I was planning to change the combination and also the locks to the
office. The auditors questioned this at first, but now they just work when
I am here. It makes more sense anyway, because they often have questions
for me. The zoning files are not in my vault so the zoning & planning
folks don't care.
The listers strongly objected because their records are in the vault (they
were moved in without the previous town clerk's permission, in the middle
of the night!) They approached the Selectboard, but I refused to give them
access and in the end they made a duplicate copy of their files to keep in
their office. I think a better solution would be one set of fire-proof
cabinets, and regular backups, but this works most of the time, except when
they forget to update my files.
The lock change was prompted by a call that I received at home from someone
who was rummaging around in my desk and was unable to find the dumpster
key! She wasn't even a town officer, but over the years people were given
master keys to the community building whenever they rented a room.
Now only my assistant and I have the vault combination. In addition to us,
I gave office keys to each Selectboard member and to the Fire Chief,
Janitor, and Maintenance person. No one else gets one, and my office is
keyed separately from the rest of the building so the master key won't work
You may get opposition at first, but people will learn to work around your
schedule when they realize that they have no other choice.
At 02:12 PM 1/16/2003 -0500, you wrote:
>I know this question was here before but I did not pay much attention
>because it was not a concern of mine. As the world turns, changes are
>occurring in my office.
>Do any of you clerks give out your vault combination to government
>employees like listers, auditors, zoning administrators, etc. The
>argument being they need access to City documents to perform their
>elected/appointed statutory duties. My vault is open five days a week
>from 8 am until 4:30 p.m.
>Any of you out there confronted with this and if so, what was the outcome
>and the basis of your argument.
>Thanks so much,