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Boston town clerk spars with board members over staffing issues

The friction between Boston Town Clerk Jennifer A. Mule and some members of the Town Board continued during Wednesday’s meeting.

It began near the beginning of the meeting when Councilman Jay P. Boardway asked that the board table passing minutes from the previous board meeting because he contends Mule did not get them done in a timely manner.

“Due to the town clerk’s failure to do her job properly,” Boardway said in explaining his request.

Mule responded by saying that she did get the minutes completed and, as a result of a reduction in the help she gets in her office after recent changes, sent them to Supervisor Martin A. Ballowe to distribute to board members.

The board did agree to table the resolution by a 4-0 vote, with Councilman Zachard A.W. Munger absent from the meeting.

The bickering continued during discussion of a resolution for use of town facilities when Boardway accused Mule of refusing to keep track of dates when town facilities are rented out for use.

“The town clerk has refused,” Boardway said.

In response, Mule said she was told that the board was in charge of keeping track of meeting dates and jumped in with comments defending herself while Boardway was discussing the resolution.

Ballowe then attempted to stop Mule from commenting further on the matter.

“We have a meeting to run. Please stop,” the supervisor said to the clerk.

The contention between some members of the board and Mule started in the fall, but boiled over in January during a dispute over who was responsible for the hiring of assistant clerks. The board did not appoint her former assistant clerks as paid employees and, although a part-time clerk was added, Mule said she has been short staffed for several months. As a result, she said there are certain functions her office is no longer doing, including putting together packets for members of the Town Board.

“Unfortunately, everyone knows I’m short staffed,” Mule said, adding the supervisor’s office has four staff members and assembling the packets is something they could do.

She also added that there is no particular timetable under which the meeting minutes have to be completed and contended that they do not have to be approved by the board.

“I do not have to have minutes prepared for you, the Town Board,” Mule said. She noted that she does it for the public, which led to applause from the audience.

During his time to speak, Boardway criticized Mule, maintaining that she is not doing her job.

“You heard an elected official tell you all the things she is not doing for you and you applaud it,” Boardway said, adding he did not understand the response from the audience.

Ballowe then said Mule has a couple of part-time clerks in her office and that he believes she should direct them to make packets for board members. He said he hopes to get the issues resolved with the town clerk as soon as possible.

In other news, Councilman Jeffrey Genzel said the town has applied for a $100,000 grant with the hopes that a town pool could be built.

“We would like to put a pool behind the recreation center,” he said, but noted it is in the early stages and nothing is guaranteed.