Not One Day in the Town Clerk’s Office is Ever Exactly the Same!

Daniel R. Healey, Town Clerk, Town of Derry

The information contained in this article is not intended as legal advice and may no longer be accurate due to changes in the law. Consult NHMA's legal services or your municipal attorney.

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Being the primary starting point for questions and directions to anyone who enters or contacts the Municipal Center, the Town Clerk’s office is always very busy. Our office is responsible for recording and management of all the Town's Vital Records, Meeting Minutes, Dog Licensing and conducting all local, state and national elections as well as voter registration and absentee ballot requests. There are also some other not so regular tasks, like signing off on dredge and fill permits, managing the articles of agreement, and recording pole licenses. Town’s that have a hospital and/or a funeral home in Town will typically see an uptick in birth record requests and death record requests respectfully.

While my office is one of the few in the State that does not register Motor Vehicles, we have over 6,000 dogs to license per year. We also have close to 20,000 registered voters which requires a significant amount of time and planning during Presidential Years. This last year in particular required extra help being hired, late nights, and weekend hours. We typically receive around 1,200 absentee ballots and our Town had close to 6,500. It took a great amount of time making sure every single ballot was checked in, sorted, and accounted for on election night, but as clerks, that was our responsibility and our promise to our residents when we took the oath of office. Not one day in the Town Clerk’s office is ever exactly the same. Our office learned this the past year. For a few months we closed our building to the public, but luckily the building engineers had the forward thinking to install a drive-thru. We had residents paying their taxes, registering their cars, licensing their dogs, and even getting married all from their cars. When new clerks are elected or appointed, the New Hampshire City and Town Clerk’s Association always tries to provide them with the resources to succeed. We have trainings throughout the year, annual workshops and an annual conference.

In addition to those things, clerks can be certified through our Joint Certification program with the New Hampshire Tax Collector’s Association. Once clerks are a little more seasoned and feel like getting involved more, they have the ability to join our Legislative Committee which reviews bills proposed by our State Representatives and State Senators to decide if our association would like to support or oppose them based off of how they will affect our day-to-day jobs and any impact they may have on our residents. Clerks can also join our Executive Board which meets once a month to receive updates from state agencies and oversees all the other Town Clerk committees. The Executive Board has members representing every region in the State and is a source for other clerks to go to for information. Whatever comes our way, we are usually able to adapt and make changes to keep up the efficiency of our offices. I have learned too that other clerks are a great resource. At the end of the day, we all want to help each other and make sure every town in the State is running as smooth as possible so all residents have a similar pleasant experience at their local town clerk’s office.

Daniel R. Healey, Town Clerk, Town of Derry