Annual Report of the Town Clerk 2020
2020! The year that none of us will ever forget. It was a challenging year in the Town Clerk’s Office as we faced the Covid-19 pandemic. This affected just about every aspect of our office and how we served the public throughout the year. With 4 elections ahead of us, just as the pandemic hit, we were forced to implement whatever changes would be necessary to be able to safely and efficiently conduct elections, town meetings, and regular business. I would like to thank my Assistant Town Clerk, Kathleen Maiato and my many election workers for stepping up to the plate and providing the residents and voters of Somerset every opportunity to obtain all services that our office provides. Although the building was closed to the public, our office did not miss a beat.
The population for the Town of Somerset according to the 2020 Annual Town Census was 17,560.
As the Chief Election official of the Town of Somerset, the Town Clerk serves as the liaison office of the Board of Registrars and maintains voter registrations and all materials related to elections. The Town Clerk is responsible for the coordinating and administrating all local and State elections. The following elections were held and the total number of registered voters in the Town of Somerset reported per election in 2020 is as follows:
Presidential Primary Election – March 3, 2020
Registered Voters: 13,247
Voter Turnout: 4,045 (30%)
Annual Town Election – June 13, 2020 (delayed due to COVID-19)
Registered Voters: 13,441
Voter Turnout: 1,644 (19.7%)
State Primary Election – September 1, 2020
Registered Voters: 13,596
Voter Turnout: 4,361 (32%)
State (Presidential) Election – November 3, 2020
Registered Voters: 14,024
Voter turnout: 11,212 (79.9%)
As required by Massachusetts General Laws, minutes of the Annual Town Meeting, Special Town Meetings and all election results are certified by the Town Clerk and are permanently recorded in the Town record books.
Our office continues to update Town’s website, www.townofsomerset.org by providing residents with as much up to date information regarding the services we provide, along with informative postings of meeting notices, election information, trash pick-up information, campaign finance information, marriage license information and fees related to our services.
I am very pleased to say that our office continues to take advantage of the Senior/Veteran Work-Off Program. In 2020, our office utilized 2 residents from this program. They have been a wonderful asset to our office especially during the busy times such as during census and elections. I would like to acknowledge George Tripp and Arlene Harnett for their assistance to the Town Clerk’s office.
The Office of the Town Clerk offers many services on a walk-in basis to the residents, such as, issuing marriage licenses; sporting licenses; dog licenses; certified copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates; voter registration; absentee ballot applications; and raffle and bazaar permits. In addition, the Office of the Town Clerk serves as the filing/clerical office for the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the filing office for the Planning Board. Residents can also obtain Town Meeting warrants, sample ballots for elections, annual reports and the annual street list ($15) in our office.
The Office of the Town Clerk is currently responsible for the sale of cemetery lots at the Nathan Slade Cemetery. Cemetery lots are available in single, double and 4 grave lots. Cemetery lots are currently sold to current and former Somerset residents at $450.00 each. Ongoing maintenance continues at all cemeteries, including repairs to fallen stones. I was fortunate to have been awarded Community Preservation funding along with being awarded the Veteran’s Heritage Grant in the amount of $6,000.00 from the Massachusetts State Historical Records Advisory Board in order to have an assessment done at the Palmer Street Cemetery to determine costs to repair and restore many historic stones and tombs. The Palmer Street Cemetery contains the gravesites of many veterans, sea captains and historically significant persons in Somerset’s history. In 2020, a professional assessment was done at the Palmer Street Cemetery and I fully intend to continue my efforts to have the monuments and grave stones repaired and restored by securing Community Preservation and Grant funding.
Our office is pleased to continue to sell sporting licenses, freshwater fishing licenses and saltwater recreational fishing licenses to area residents. With the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s implementation of on-line purchasing only, many of our neighboring communities chose to eliminate this as a service out of their Town Clerk’s office. We have welcomed customers from the surrounding area and encourage them to continue to take advantage of this service that Somerset offers.During the calendar year of 2020, the following were issued: Dog Licenses – 259 Raffle & Bazaar Permits – 2 Zoning Variances and/or Special Permits – 37 applications, 32 decisions granted, 1 denied, 2 withdrawn, 2 pending Business Certificates Issued – 40, Withdrawn – 2 Graves sold – 70 Burial Permits issued - 169 Deaths recorded - 286 Births recorded - 83 Marriages Intentions filed - 108 Marriage Certificates Issued - 101 Sporting Licenses: Sporting – 24, Hunting – 3, Freshwater Fishing – 24, Saltwater Fishing - 51
Dolores Bence, CMMC - Town Clerk