By Elizabeth Neville
I would like to give an accurate account as to the actual manner in which my office has served the public during the COVID-19 pandemic beginning on March 17, 2020. Operations in my office were never shut down. As an elected official, I was at my office continually serving the public by telephone, email and out of the office back window as best as possible. Under Governor Cuomo’s order, only two of my staff were allowed to work, only one at a time was allowed in the office with me and one working from home.
As many duties as possible were carried out as usual. At the end of May 2020 two additional staff members were allowed back into the office on a 50% alternating basis. Beginning on May 16, 2020 through October 15, 2020, my office began issuing permits from the drive-thru at the Town Hall Annex as well as Town Hall. The Town Clerk’s Office was never at a standstill.
As your Town Clerk for the last 24 years, I have worked tirelessly bringing technology not only to the Town Clerk’s Office, but to all Town offices and departments. In 1989, at the inception of the NYS Archives Local Government Records Management Grant Program, I began writing and submitting grant applications to the NYS Archives for funding. The early grants involved locating all town records within all town offices, inventorying and organizing them and setting up on-site vault storage rooms in the basement.
This removed overflowing inactive records and allowed them to operate more efficiently. Technology grants became available when I was elected Town Clerk in 1998. Some of the grants received were: Archive Writer Microfilming Machine; Laserfiche Digital Imaging System; large scale map scanner; book scanner for bound books; Municity Land Management System (enabling departments to manage issuance of their permits); updating of Geographical Information Mapping System (GIS); updated RIO Laserfiche (for digital forms and workflows).
In 1998, I initiated the town purchase of the BAS Town Clerk Receipting Software Program (prior to this all receipts were handwritten). In 2003, I initiated the town purchase of the Town Clerk Agenda/ Minutes/Media Traq Management Systems. As a matter of record, I received in 2018 the NYSED Archives Cheryl Steinbech Award for Excellence in Local Government Records Management. In 2009 The Suffolk Times Award of “Public Service Person of the Year“ and in 2008 the award of “Town Clerk of the Year” from the NYS Town Clerks Association. All awards cited many of my records management accomplishments.
I have never considered political party affiliation or given any preferential treatment to any political party or person in my office. I have always operated my office in a strictly bi-partisan manner and instructed my staff to treat everyone equally. It has been an honor and pleasure to have served the people of the Town of Southold over the last fifty years (twenty–four of them as Town Clerk).
Ms. Neville is the Southold Town Clerk and is retiring after a half-century of public service.
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