Christen Bouchard’s first duty as Passadumkeag town clerk was to oversee the Nov. 3, 2020, election, for which she received three days of training. She had been on the job for two months.

By the time she resigned last month, she was also the deputy treasurer and in charge of licensing pets, registering vehicles, maintaining vital records and liaising with the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for the town of Passadumkeag.

Bouchard submitted her resignation April 7 when the board of selectmen refused to let her take a two-week vacation because there wouldn’t be anyone to take over during her temporary absence, she said.

Her resignation means that the town of Passadumkeag, located about 30 miles north of Bangor, has effectively shut down until further notice, because it does not have a town clerk, code enforcement officer, assessor or animal control officer. One of two School Administrative Unit 31 board of director seats for Passadumkeag is also vacant.

Christen Bouchard with her two children. Bouchard resigned as the Passadumkeag town clerk last month. Since then, the town has effectively shut down. It’s unable to process vehicle registrations, and its town office has no regular hours. Credit: Courtesy of Christen Bouchard

The town can’t issue vehicle registrations, inspect homes or businesses, assess properties or respond to reports about rabid or abused animals, and its office has been closed to the public since April 21.

“Please call the office before heading out to do any business here as there are no designated hours of operation now,” an April 19 notice read.

It’s unclear when some of those key town positions might be filled. Residents at the annual town meeting on March 28 rejected a $91,400 budget article meant to fund town operations after town officials at the meeting couldn’t explain an increase to the municipal salary line, according to the Lincoln News. The budget article also didn’t provide money for a code enforcement officer, a position towns are required to have under state law, the newspaper reported.

Treasurer Barbara Boyer comes into the office a couple days per week to collect taxes and pay bills, but she can’t issue vehicle registrations or perform other duties.  

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.” 

Selectman Alton Huston, who was elected in March, confirmed the vacancies but directed further questions to Spencer. 

Spencer did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

Selectman Alton Huston, who was elected in March, confirmed the vacancies but directed further questions to Spencer.

Howland started handling all vehicle registrations for Passadumkeag residents two weeks ago, said Kelly Sirois, Howland’s water and sewer clerk.

The town has been in charge of new vehicle registrations for Passadumkeag residents for “well over a year” because Bouchard was only trained to renew existing registrations, Sirois said.

Bouchard said she performed her duties while being paid $13,500 a year to work 16 hours a week, though in reality, she worked far more than that. Most days, she was the only person in the town office whom residents could interact with when they needed help with something or had a question.

“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 said.

She and Boyer became the first people to be appointed to their roles, after the board of selectmen voted in March to make them appointed roles instead of elected positions, according to the Lincoln News. 

“There is so much to know in order to do the job,” Bouchard said. “I was honestly just getting somewhat comfortable.”

Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to LRussell@bangordailynews.com.