Rhinebeck to narrow clerk residency requirement

Town board continues search, limits field to applicants from three counties

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Rhinebeck’s town clerk position is soon to be open only to residents of Dutchess, Ulster or Columbia counties.

The Town Board is seeking a candidate for town clerk and tax collector — both jobs filled by the same position — to fill the vacancy left by Barbara Cunningham, who retired in late August.

“We’re moving very quickly,” said Spinzia of the search. She added that out of 100 applications received by the Aug.15 deadline, 18 people were called in for a first round of 20-minute interviews with the Town Board, and of those, seven or eight are being asked to return for a second round.

Unlike most towns, Rhinebeck appoints its town clerk rather than electing it.

“I like it that our town clerk is appointed, not elected,” said Town Board member Elizabeth Spinzia. “It makes it nonpolitical…. Of course, I would prefer a Rhinebeck resident, but this way we can choose the best candidate.”

She pointed out that of 936 municipalities in New York State, 20 percent appoint their clerks; the remainder elect them.

The Town Clerk handles birth, marriage and death records for the town, as well as hunting and fishing licenses and burn permits. The Clerk also assists with genealogy searches, distributes town board meeting agendas and minutes, schedules town hall usage, supervises the deputy clerk and collects taxes.

On August 27, the board introduced new local laws 4 and 5, which, if passed, would restrict residency for the two jobs to Dutchess, Ulster and Columbia counties.

Just last month, the board voted to lift the Rhinebeck-only residency restriction to allow a larger pool of applicants.

A public hearing on the proposed new restrictions was scheduled for Sept. 10 at Town Hall.

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