City clerk

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 town clerk. As related in Acts XIX 23-25, the artisans of Ephesus who made the idols of the time, feared the effect of Paul's missionary work on their trade. They incited a mob to seize two of Paul's followers. The town clerk, however, spoke out against this action and insisted that charges laid against these men had to be settled in the proper manner and before the proper authorities. There was no justification fo riotous conduct. With that, he dispersed the crowd.

Ancient Greece had a city secretary who read official documents publicly. At the opening of a meeting, one of his duties was to read a curse upon anyone who should seek to deceive people.

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 Amerca, one of the first offices established was that of clerk. THe colony at Plymouth appointed a person to act as a recorder.

In the United States, a City Clerk is an elected or appointed official who is responsible as the official keeper of the municipal records. In some places, the Clerk may be known as the "Village Clerk" or "Town Clerk". In Boroughs, Parishes, and Counties they are often known as the "County Clerk." If the Clerk's Office is limited to just performing the agenda and minutes for the legislative and committee meetings, the office may be called "Clerk of the Legislature." A City Clerk Office usually publishes agendas for legislative bodies, such as the City Assembly, City Council, or Alderman meetings, and is responsible for recording all council- and city mayor-related actions.

The staff of the Office of the City Clerk usually edits, compiles and publishes the minutes of City Council meetings. Vital attributes for all staff associated with this Office include being extremely diplomatic, unflappable, and maintaining an apolitical demeanor.

The Clerk's Office is essentially the hub of all the records for the municipality. Archiving and record retention has historically been done by storing documents in vaults. In recent years, scanned documents and electronic storage systems, which require vastly reduced physical spaces, are becoming more prevalent...but perhaps as a result, more kinds and types of documents seem to be consequently generated and stored, as well.

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 hitting the organization's website.

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