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'FED UP' TOWN BOARD MEMBER OFFERS PROPOSAL TO ELIMINATE ELECTED CLERK

For weeks, Amherst Town Clerk Susan K. Jaros has been closing her office to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays while she and Town Board members continue feuding over who should collect Amherst's taxes.

Jaros blames the board for the closings, saying lawmakers chopped $18,000 from her budget last month. Then they cut another $30,000 when she began closing her office.

But now Council Member William L. Kindel says the clerk is throwing a tantrum and he's had enough.

"We're fed up with the lack of cooperation," he said Thursday. "We want that office open five days a week."

Kindel filed a motion this week to eliminate the job of elected town clerk and replace it with a clerk's position that would be filled by the board.

If approved by the board, the measure would be subject to a public referendum.

The proposal will likely be discussed at the board's meeting Monday.

Reaction was mixed among fellow lawmakers, but several joined in Kindel's criticism of Jaros' decision to close her office.

One lawmaker issued a plea for reason.

"Honestly we need to get together, and this nonsense has to stop. Our concern should be what's best for the residents," Council Member Shelly Schratz said.

That left one board member -- Supervisor Susan J. Grelick -- voicing support for Jaros. Grelick issued a news release calling the elected clerk's office "crucial to the checks and balances" of town government.

If Kindel's measure passes, Jaros says she's ready.

"I'll fight it. I'll go to the public, because this is taking a vote away from the people," she said.

Jaros also wonders aloud if Kindel, a former town clerk, wants the job back in order to enrich his retirement years.

"Does he want to take this position back again so he can get three high earning years so he can get a better pension?" Jaros said.

Kindel could not be reached to comment on Jaros' remark.

Nevertheless, Jaros says she has the right to close her office and set her own hours.

"The law says we have to be open three days a week, and we are. This would never have happened if they didn't cut the budget," she said.

She also points out that the vital statistics office, which issues birth and death certificates and handicapped parking passes, has remained open all week.

And, while accusing the other side of "vindictiveness and meanness," Jaros said she liked things the way they used to be.

"I was perfectly happy the way it was before they instituted the lock box and before they cut six people from my office," she said.

Finally, she warned: "If this continues, I will have to lay off more people from my office, and it will affect other town offices."

So where does it end?

"I have no idea. We'll have to wait for the next Town Board meeting," Jaros said.

e-mail: tdolan@buffnews.com