Despite being tucked into the basement of Town Hall or quietly recording meetings of the Town Council, Farmington Town Clerk Paula Ray has been recently recognized as one of the best in the state.
Ray, who has served as Farmington Town Clerk for 12 years and is a longtime Farmington resident, is among six town clerks to receive Master Connecticut Town Clerk’s Certification, awarded by the State of Connecticut Town Clerk’s Association. The certification was awarded for the first time this year and is given for continuing education and professional participation.
“Paula is a huge resource for the town of Farmington,” said Town Council Chairman Jeff Hogan. “Town Clerks in general have a vast array of responsibilities… Paula, in particular, is our master of minutia. She is the ultimate resource for ‘what is right’ as it relates to process and documentation. She and her staff know where to go to find documents and archives which speak to important and historical issues.”
The functions Ray oversees – with a little less than three fulltime staff - are many and varied. The Town Clerk’s office processes all the town’s land records, maps and surveys, vital records, which include birth and death certificates and marriage licenses, as well as boat and dog licenses.
During election and referendum seasons, Ray is also responsible for creating ballots and overseeing absentee ballots, as well as keeping track of campaign finances. Once elections are over, Ray administers the oath of office.
In addition, Ray serves as the town’s Freedom of Information liaison and as clerk of the council, taking the minutes at Town Council meetings. And more than a million dollars a year passes through her office.
Maintaining the records that encompass the lives of Farmington’s citizens is not simple but rather is governed by many regulations.
“You can’t just throw records away. They have to be on a schedule of destruction that is authorized by the records administrator for the state of Connecticut,” Ray explained. “When I want to throw away my telephone notepad (a record of Ray’s phone conversations), for example, I have to keep it for a year, then write for permission to dispose of it. Then they grant permission and I can destroy it. But I have to keep the record of permission to destroy it forever.”
Records are kept in vaults in the Town Hall.
When the council discusses a policy, Ray refers members to local and statewide documents that provide context and knows where to find them.
During meetings, Ray has been known to remind the council of proper procedure to ensure everything is done ethically and legally at the table.
“I daresay that I know few people in the state with the breadth and scope of Paula’s knowledge. She has an unusual passion for doing what is right and she has gone out of her way to become the best Town Clerk in the state,” Hogan said. “Paula is the real deal. We are very lucky to call her our Town Clerk.”