BERLIN — Patti Lewis' brief run as Berlin's first appointed town treasurer ended amicably this week when she stepped down, citing her inability to keep the sort of consistent office hours that members of the Select Board believe are important.
Lewis' resignation, which was effective Monday, ended her near nine-year run as the town's treasurer and tax collector, though she has been serving at the pleasure of the Select Board only since March.
That is when Lewis was appointed to fill what had been an elected office — one that she had held since 2004.
Voters approved a charter change in 2010, but its implementation was delayed until after Lewis' latest term expired in March. On the eve of Town Meeting Day, Lewis was appointed to fill her previously elected position following the competitive selection process contemplated in the charter provision.
At the time Select Board members expressed their desire that Lewis, who also serves as a local lawmaker, keep more regular daytime office hours.
According to Lewis, that proved to be a challenge.
“I sort of realized this year that I'm spreading myself a little thin and it was time to focus on my home, my family and the Legislature,” she said this week.
Getting the part-time job done was never an issue, according to Lewis, who said that doing it within the confines of a regular workweek would likely have continued to be challenging given her legislative obligations.
“I just felt that it was in the best interest of me and the town that I resign and let somebody else take the helm,” she said.
Lewis said the size of her new legislative district, which includes Berlin and all of neighboring Northfield instead of Berlin and a sliver of Barre, factored into her decision, as did family demands including those associated with taking care of her mother.
Had Lewis come up short in the three-way race for two seats in her new legislative district, she said, she might have remained treasurer.
Lewis vowed to remain active in the community and said she would miss her treasurer's duties.
“I really loved my job,” she said. “I loved it.”
Town Administrator Jeff Schulz described Lewis as “positive, upbeat and very professional.”
“It was a pleasure to work with her,” he said.
According to Schulz, the Select Board took steps earlier this week to secure an interim replacement for Lewis while it prepares to search for a more permanent replacement. For the time being, he said, Moretown Town Clerk Cherilyn Lamson has agreed to work a few hours a week in the evenings to handle payroll and other essential functions of the treasurer.
Schulz said the charter spells out the process for appointing a new treasurer and the first step involves assembling a seven-member search committee similar to the one that recommended Lewis' appointment earlier this year. That committee, he said, must include three members of the Select Board and four other town residents.
Schulz predicted the hiring process would likely take a couple of months — providing time for the committee to advertise the position, screen resumes, interview candidates and make a recommendation to the Select Board.
Though no final decisions have been made, Schulz said the board will likely look for someone willing to work roughly 15 hours a week, without benefits, for $21 to $24 an hour depending on credentials. He said the board is also interested in the treasurer being at the municipal offices three days a week — including Monday for payroll — during regular business hours.
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