Clerk (municipal official)


Clerk (municipal official)

A clerk is a senior official of many municipal governments in the English-speaking world. In some communities, the position is elected, but in many others, the clerk is appointed to their post. In almost all cases, the actual title of the clerk reflects the type of municipality he or she works for, thus, instead of simply being known as the clerk, the position is generally referred to as the town clerk, city clerk, village clerk, or county clerk. Other titles also exist. The office has existed for centuries, though in some places it is now being merged with other positions.

The duties of a municipal clerk vary even more than their titles. Particularly in the United States, it is impossible within the scope of this article to fully describe a clerk's duties, because there are literally hundreds of different job descriptions extant. In some U.S. states, there are provisions in the state constitutions delineating the clerk's duties,[1][2] but in other states, each municipality decides for itself what role the clerk plays, or even, if there need be a clerk at all.

Contents

History

The origins of the position of "clerk" are unclear. In ancient Greece there were secretaries for each polis who read official documents publicly and at the opening of a meeting read public curses.[3] The early keepers of the archives were often called remembrancers, and before writing came into use, their memory was public record. When the early colonists came to America, one of the first offices established was that of clerk.[4] The colony at Plymouth appointed a person to act as a recorder.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the Town Clerk is the senior administrative officer of the city, borough or town, usually the most senior salaried employee of the council. In most unitary authorities the Town Clerk has now been renamed the Chief Executive, although the original name is retained in most smaller towns. The Town Clerks of the larger county boroughs frequently received knighthoods, and the Chief Executives of large authorities sometimes still do. The equivalent officer in counties and districts was the Clerk to the Council (now also designated Chief Executive) and in parishes is the Parish Clerk, usually an unsalaried part-time volunteer whose main responsibility is the administration and minuting of parish council meetings.

On ceremonial occasions, the Town Clerk wears a gown of black silk ottoman/grosgrain of the lay pattern with panel sleeves and a flap collar. The gown is trimmed with rows of braid and tassels. This gown is similar to the gown of undergraduate Fellow and Gentleman-Commoners in the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The Town Clerk also wears a wig similar to that of barristers.[5][6]

United States

In the United States, the clerk often serves as the official keeper of the municipal records, and as such, is sometimes described as the "historian" of the community.[7] Sometimes the Clerk's Office is limited to just presenting the agenda and minutes for the legislative and committee meetings. Official meetings of municipalities can become a serious chore as the activity in the town increases from population increases. The task of assembling the agenda packets with supporting documents can take several days for a single meeting. It becomes more complicated due to the input and iterative modification by numerous departments and agencies both within and external to the organization. Software applications that can easily assemble agendas, minutes and even automatically transcribe the meetings are now becoming more common. Often, these agendas and meeting minutes are downloadable by interested citizens by accessing the organization's website.

Clerks may also be responsible for issuing licenses,[8] overseeing local elections,[9] maintain financial records,[1] registrar of vital statistics,[10] and increasingly, for assuring the transparency of the municipality's conduct of business.[7][11]

Illinois

In Illinois, clerks may also exist on the township level, which is a subdivision of the county. Such clerks are sometimes required to serve more than one governmental unit,[12] due to the often overlapping jurisdictions that exist in Illinois.

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the Town Clerk is the chief election official of a town and the keeper of permanent and vital records. The duties of Town Clerks vary slightly in each community. Massachusetts clerks who have been in office five or more years may be elected by special ballot initiative to a lifetime term with mandatory retirement at age 70, after which they may remain in office if they run for successive terms.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, for over a century, the chief administrative officer of a city or borough was also legally designated the Town Clerk. This continued until the 1970s, when the city and county administrative procedures were largely merged and the Local Government Act 1974 declared that every such person (along with his or her rural counterpart, the county clerk) should henceforth be styled the "Chief Administrative Officer".

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b "60.33 Duties of town clerk. :: Chapter 60. Towns. :: 2010 Wisconsin Code :: Wisconsin Code :: US Codes and Statutes :: US Law :: Justia". Law.justia.com. http://law.justia.com/codes/wisconsin/2010/60/60.33.html. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  2. ^ Reiter, Michael (2011-06-03). "Duties of the City Clerk Under California Law In a General Law California City « Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law Blog". Michaelreiterlaw.wordpress.com. http://michaelreiterlaw.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/duties-of-the-city-clerk-under-california-law-in-a-general-law-california-cityornia-law/. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  3. ^ Literacy and orality in ancient Greece - Google Books. Books.google.com. http://books.google.com/books?id=WeHPGhIfgrYC. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  4. ^ "TOWN CLERK - WESTERLY, Rhode Island". Westerly.govoffice.com. http://westerly.govoffice.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={66DF58E6-9381-4FD9-B6DB-6B7EE81794FD}. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  5. ^ "Michaels Civic Robes". Civicrobes.com. http://www.civicrobes.com/Pages/Robes/Civic/Civic.htm. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  6. ^ "Presentation to Malcolm Pratt, Town Clerk, 2009". Winchelsea.com. http://www.winchelsea.com/gallery_corporation.html. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  7. ^ a b "City Clerk". Cityofcarlsbadnm.com. http://www.cityofcarlsbadnm.com/CityClerk.cfm. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  8. ^ "Town Clerk, job description". Memun.org. http://www.memun.org/SchoolsProject/Resources/officials/town_clerk.htm. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  9. ^ "Milton, Delaware, Town Clerk job description". http://www.ci.milton.de.us/media/Town_Clerk.pdf. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  10. ^ "Town of Brant New York". Brantny.com. http://www.brantny.com/departments/clerk.php. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  11. ^ Louise, Sarah. "Technology for Transparency | Our Town". Chicago Reader. http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/technology-for-transparency/Content?oid=1103071. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  12. ^ "Clerk’s Duties :: DeKalb Township, Illinois". Dekalbtownship.com. http://dekalbtownship.com/board/clerks-duties/. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Clerk (disambiguation) — A clerk is someone who works in an office. Contents 1 Office holder 1.1 Former titles 2 Non government titles 3 Media …   Wikipedia

  • official — of·fi·cial 1 n: one who holds or is invested with an office esp. in government a municipal official official 2 adj 1: of, relating to, or holding an office, position, or trust official duties 2: fully authorized an official policy of t …   Law dictionary

  • Official bilingualism in Canada — Culture of Canada This article is part of a series History Canadians Canadian identity …   Wikipedia

  • Municipal government of Toronto — {{Unreferenced|date=December 200 and has an operating budget of $7.8 billion. The most recent operating budget was composed of $2.5 billion dollars of funds from the Government of Ontario for purposes they mandate such as Toronto Public Health,… …   Wikipedia

  • Official Opposition (Canada) — Canada This article is part of the series: Politics and government of Canada   …   Wikipedia

  • Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet of the 40th Parliament of Canada — Canada This article is part of the series: Politics and government of Canada   …   Wikipedia

  • Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet of the 39th Parliament of Canada — Canada This article is part of the series: Politics and government of Canada   …   Wikipedia

  • City clerk — The municipal clerk, along with the tax collector, is the oldest of public servants. The office can be traced to biblical times and even before. St. Paul and his followers during his missionary work in Persia owed their safety to the action of a… …   Wikipedia

  • Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund — The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (or IMRF) is a pension fund created in 1939 by the Illinois General Assembly for municipal employees in the state of Illinois. IMRF began operating in 1941 with 5 original employers and $5,000 in assets.… …   Wikipedia

  • York Region municipal elections, 2010 — Elections in the Regional Municipality of York of Ontario, Canada were held on 25 October 2010 in conjunction with municipal elections across the province. The results below are unofficial, pending review from the respective clerk s office for… …   Wikipedia