LIMESTONE, Maine — After a brief closure, Limestone residents will once again be able to register their cars, buy dog licenses and pay their taxes at the town office.
Interim Town Manager Walt Elliot closed the office Tuesday because the town has lost its two clerks. A former clerk will fill in as the office reopens Thursday with limited hours.
The most recent clerk and treasurer, Cindy Tardy, resigned on March 12. In her resignation letter, Tardy said that she had “chosen a different direction for [her] future.” Elliot said Tuesday that Jewel Graves, who was hired as a deputy clerk in February, also has resigned.
Chelsea Elliot, the prior town clerk, has agreed to fill in before a new permanent clerk is hired, Walt Elliot said late Wednesday. She is Elliot’s former daughter-in-law and had worked as a clerk prior to his tenure as interim town manager.
The town office will reopen tomorrow from 2 to 4 p.m. and will keep those hours for the time being, Elliot stated.
The outright closure of a municipal office is a dramatic example of a Maine town’s struggle to hire and retain workers. Limestone has struggled to find qualified applicants for a new town manager, a position Elliot has filled since last fall.
The nearby town of Woodland has been unable to find clerks to bring its books up to date, according to town officials. Farther south, Hancock County’s planning board finally hired an employee in September after months with no staff.
Limestone’s town office first closed last Friday. Elliot had kept the building open for limited hours since Monday, but does not have the training to handle vehicle registrations and tax collection, he said.
Elliot said he has been undergoing training to become certified in tax collection. Once that happens, he can collect taxes under the supervision of a town clerk.
Graves’ departure is expected to leave a void for the town. After being hired, she had expressed interest in helping Limestone apply for federal and state grants after the town failed to find a consultant to handle that work.
Most recently, interim employees Kristin Vines and Spencer Keiser stepped up to fill leadership vacancies at the library and highway department, respectively. But shortages remain in the town’s police and recreation departments.
Limestone may consider partnering with another municipality to provide clerk services, Elliot said.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the reason Tardy resigned.