From the Town Clerk
Hello All ~ Happy Spring!
March was a crazy busy month in the Town Clerk’s office. During the month of March we processed thousands of Census forms, registered hundreds of dogs, while also preparing for the April 3rd Annual Town Election, working on the Town Clerk’s portion of the 2016 Annual Report and completing the Town Clerk’s 2018 fiscal year budgets.
4TH ANNUAL RABIES CLINIC – A SUCCESS!
We held our fourth annual Rehoboth/Seekonk Rabies Clinic on Saturday, March 11th from 9:00 a.m. to Noon, and in spite of the frigid cold weather, it was a huge success. Residents of both towns were able to have their dogs and cats vaccinated for $12.00 each and renew their dog licenses at the same time. Another record was set this year, with over 200 dogs and cats vaccinated. I guess good news travels and that is fantastic! In addition to the vaccinations, Rehoboth residents were also able to renew their dog’s license. The first year we registered 25 dogs at the rabies clinic, in the second year we issued 48 dog tags, third year 65 dogs and this year 66 were registered at the clinic. Rehoboth had 73 animals vaccinated and 66 dogs registered at the 3-11-17 ~ 4th Annual Rabies Clinic. In 2016 we accepted $740 in dog license registrations and in 2017 $830, an increase of $90. It was interesting to see several residents came to the clinic just to register their dogs this year, since it was closer than driving up to town hall. It was really nice to hear from the residents how much they appreciated Lynn, her son Logan and I spending our Saturday morning at the clinic so they could get their animals vaccinated and dogs registered well before the April 1st deadline. Lynn and I thoroughly enjoyed working with Jan Parker - Seekonk Town Clerk, Logan Shaker, the Save-A-Pet Volunteers, Seekonk and Rehoboth Animal Control Officers and Assistant Animal Control Officers, the Johnson family, Cynthia Lee, Seekonk Highway staff, Dr. Trusdale, and his office staff. Next year the rabies clinic will be scheduled around the same time (probably March 10, 2018) so mark your calendars, more information will be in your 2018 Census mailer.
JAN PARKER – SEEKONK TOWN CLERK RETIRES AFTER 21 YEARS OF SERVICE!
Speaking of Seekonk Town Clerk, Jan Parker, I would personally like to wish Jan a happy and healthy retirement. After 21 years of dedicated service to the Town of Seekonk, Jan has decided to retire after the April 3, 2017 Seekonk Annual Town Election. Jan will now be able to enjoy her free time with her husband Dave and family. I will sincerely miss Jan as a mentor and sounding board. Jan has been such a great source of reference since I became Rehoboth’s Town Clerk in 2013. Jan and Dave, I wish you both a wonderful retirement full of great health, many vacations, and fun with your family. Good Luck – Much Happiness and I look forward to a continued friendship after you retire. Thank you for time and expertise and for your 21 years of service to the Town of Seekonk ~ the residents were very fortunate to have such a talented, dedicated public servant! Congrats Jan!!!
ANNUAL TOWN ELECTION
The Rehoboth Reporter was kind enough to extend my submission deadline for the April Reporter so we could include the results of our Monday, April 3, 2017 Annual Town Election. The Annual Town Election promoted a great deal of interest among voters . . . two ballot questions (non-binding question on the potential construction of a Compressor Station in the town of Rehoboth and a debt exclusion question on building a new municipal complex at the current site of our public safety building), three contested races (Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Park Commission) and a write-in campaign (Planning Board). All three precincts were open with the polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. As you know, I decided to extend the town election polling hours to mirror those of the State and Federal elections, in an attempt to make voting more accessible to our town’s registered voters. We had 30% of our voting population (2,555 voters out of 8,611 registered voters) turn out to have their voices heard. As most of you already know, the following candidates appeared on the Annual Town Election Ballot:
Moderator (one for 1 year), Selectmen (two for 3 years), Tax Collector (one for 3 years), Assessor (one for 3 years), D-R School Committee (two for 3 years), Planning Board (two for 5-years and one for one year), Park Commission (one for 5 years), and Water Commissioner (two for 3-years).
As you can see, the Municipal Complex lost by 120 votes and the Compressor Station won by 2,061 votes. We did have a close race between Anthony Arrigo and Michael Deignan for D-R School Committee; Anthony won by seven votes (1,200 to 1193). There was a Write-In Campaign for the Five Year Planning Board position, which was awarded to Michael R. Costa. Michael was appointed to fulfill Steve Brook’s vacated position back in December. His term was until the April 3rd Election. Congratulations to all who won.
ELECTED AND APPOINTED TOWN OFFICIALS
A reminder to our elected and appointed town officials; you should be aware that no action can be taken by you in your position until you have taken the Oath of Office. Also, should you ever have reason to resign from your position; your resignation should be directed to the Town Clerk as per MGL c41, s109. Thank you!
ANNUAL TOWN MEETING
Rehoboth voters are advised that the date for the Annual Town Meeting, and a Special Town Meeting preceding the Annual, has been scheduled by the Board of Selectmen for Monday, May 8th, at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School Auditorium and will likely take two evenings. The Special Town Meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. with the Annual Town Meeting following immediately after at 7:30 p.m. A tentative second town meeting date has been scheduled for the following Monday, May 15th. If a third session is needed, we will hold that town meeting on Monday, May 22nd. I urge all voters to come out to our Special and Annual Town Meeting and let your voice be heard. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!
UPCOMING VOTER REGISTRATION SESSION
The final Voter Registration date to be eligible to participate in the Special and Annual Town Meeting has been scheduled for Friday, April 28th from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Rehoboth Town Clerk’s Office. Prospective voters are reminded that they may also register to vote online by going to www.RegisterToVoteMA.com or by visiting the Town Clerk’s Office, picking up a voter registration form at the Rehoboth Post Office, by calling the Town Clerk’s Office to request a Mail-In voter registration form, or download a form online @ http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/Voter-reg-mail-in.pdf.
2017 DOG LICENSES ARE NOW PAST DUE
As mentioned earlier, 2017 Dog licenses were due April 1, 2017. You may purchase your dog’s license at the Town Clerk’s Office Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., licenses may also be purchased online @ https://www.invoicecloud.com/rehobothgovsvcs, or by mail (if paying by mail, checks should be made payable to the “Town of Rehoboth” ). The licensing fees are as follows: Male or female dog $20.00; spayed or neutered dogs $10.00. Whether renewing online, via mail, or in person, dog license applications must be accompanied by a current year rabies certificate (with a vaccination date covering the current licensing year) and proof of spay or neuter [if applying for the $10 licensing fee] unless we already have your documentation on file in the Clerk’s Office. If you are unsure, please give our office a call, and we can tell you how up-to-date our information is. Dog owners should note that the license(s) will not be returned unless a stamped, self-addressed envelope is included with postage (71¢ for one dog tag, 93¢ for two dog tags and 1.15¢ for three dog tags).
Please renew your dog licenses as soon as possible to avoid any further late fees coming in June ~ thank you. To date we registered 1,118 dogs and still have over 975 to register. Remember, in addition to being a legal requirement, registering your dog assures the prevention of rabies, and provides easy identification to return lost dogs to their owners because they are now in our database.
ANNUAL TOWN CENSUS FORMS ARE NOW PAST DUE
Our Annual Town Census Forms for year 2017 were mailed to all households in Rehoboth during the first week of January. If you did not receive your census form, please contact the Town Clerk’s Office. Residents were asked to review the pre-printed forms, make corrections, and return them as by the January 31, 2017 deadline. Please understand that you cannot cross out and change your political party on the census form. This must be done through the Town Clerk’s Office, with your original signature, to process a change of designation or to register to vote. In the 2017 census packet we included a yellow voter registration or change of party form for your convenience. If you would like to register to vote or change your party affiliation, please send in the signed and completed yellow form or register online at www.RegisterToVoteMA.com.
As of March 31st we have 384 households in Precinct 1, 437 households in Precinct 2, and 458 households in Precinct 3 that have not yet returned their annual town census. If you haven’t returned your 2017 census form, please send it to the clerk’s office as soon as possible. I would personally like to thank the 3,732 households that have already returned their census forms. We are still waiting for $1,279 residents to return their forms. Also, as a reminder, failure to return the completed form may result in voters being placed on an inactive voting list and as per State requirements, after four years of inactivity you will be removed from the voting list.
Residents that have not returned their census forms may have received a “reminder” call from one of our Registrars, either Jennifer Moitoso or Helene Vitale. I would personally like to thank Lynn Shaker, Assistant Town Clerk, and all three Registrars, Kathleen Conti, Jennifer Moitoso, and Helen Vitale for working so diligently on this year’s census forms. With 12,545 residents, as of 3/31/17 (up 326 from last year), this task would be unmanageable without their help ~ thank you all; I would be lost without all your hard work and dedication to the 2017 census project ~ thank you!
Speaking of the number of residents in Rehoboth, our population has fluctuated over the past few years. Total Rehoboth Population in 2013 was 12,060; 2014 was 12,175; 12,008 in 2015; 12,219 in 2016 and to date (3/31/17), the 2017 census population is 12,545 (up 326 from last year). When the yearly census forms were received in January, residents were asked to please make sure all occupants living at their home were listed on the census; children and elders included. Doing a quick scan of the census records I noticed there are several children who were born to families living in Rehoboth; however, they have not been added to the family census documents. If children are born in Rhode Island (Woman’s and Infants, Rhode Island Hospital, etc.) that data is not shared with the Massachusetts town of residence. Therefore, the newborns can only be added when the parents update their yearly census forms. For your information, the data collected on the census forms is strictly confidential. In addition to confidentiality, children under the age of 16 do not appear on any report distributed from this office (with the exception of the school district which keeps that same information confidential as well).
Additionally, the D-R School District uses the census data we collect to predict the future student enrollment numbers. It is very important that all residents living in Rehoboth be accounted for on the yearly census forms. Lynn and I have also noticed that several families have moved out of Rehoboth, new families move in to those same homes; however, the new families have not filled out a census form when they move in to town. If you are new to Rehoboth and have not received a census form, please contact us or check our website for a census form - http://www.town.rehoboth.ma.us/town-clerk/pages/census-information . If you have already submitted your 2017 census data to our office and would like to update your 2017 census information with additional individuals living at your residence, please give us a call at 508-252-6502 X-3109 or X3110 or drop us an e-mail LSchwall@town.rehoboth.ma.us or LShaker@town.rehoboth.ma.us. Thank you for helping us maintain an accurate database of Rehoboth residents. This data will not only help the Clerk’s department, but all departments/committees trying to secure grants based on population figures, and the schools which are able to accurately predict and budget for future enrollment. We appreciate your help and look forward to hearing from you soon.
2020 U.S. CENSUS KICK-OFF MEETING
On Thursday, March 23rd, Selectman Schwall and I attended Secretary Galvin’s 2020 U.S. Census Kick-Off meeting in Sturbridge Massachusetts. The meeting was quite informative. Secretary Galvin told us the Massachusetts population is getting close to 7 million. He explained the need for accuracy in the census, since the information collected insures Political and Financial Representation. It also helps in advancing the goals of individual communities. Secretary Galvin stated it will be extremely important to all cities and towns to have their residents reply to the 2020 census so our towns/cities can get the representation and resources they need.
It appears the State will be getting the Clerk’s Office, Assessor’s Office, Planning Board, and Informational Technology departments into the 2020 census process. There will be another workshop and/or webinars available in the Fall to give us more information. The PowerPoints they presented have just been uploaded to the Secretary of State’s website: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/census2020/luca.htm if you are interested in reviewing.
Gerry and I both were impressed with the data that is available – free of charge – to help all our departments and residents learn more about the demographics of our Town and State. Alexandra Barker, Data Dissemination Specialist for the US Census Bureau, gave us a quick tutorial on what is available on the US Census website during the census kick-off meetings. Great stuff if you would like to investigate: https://www.census.gov/ – hope you enjoy exploring the site. I would suggest checking out “Quick Facts”, “Data Tools & Apps”, and “American Fact Finder”.
It is requested that when you send correspondence to any office at the Town Hall you only include information specific to the department you want to communicate with. As an example, residents might send in their tax payment along with their census form or dog license. Tax payments would go to the Tax Collector whereas census forms or dog licenses would go to the Town Clerk’s Office. By including multiple offices in one envelop it may delay processing your requests or payments. Thank you for your consideration.
Business owners whose business certificate will expire during January through June of 2017 should have received a reminder for renewal. The renewal fee is $50.00 (certificate renewal is good for four years) and checks should be made payable to The Town of Rehoboth. If you have any questions on any of the above items please feel free to contact the Town Clerk’s Office at 508-252-6502, X3109 or X3110.
In closing, Lynn and I would like to thank the voters of Rehoboth for coming out and participating in the April 3, 2017 Annual Town Election. As you know, I personally believe, voting is a tremendous gift and your vote is so important in deciding the forward motion of our town government. As President Roosevelt so eloquently stated: “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Lynn and I also hope you had a wonderful Easter and/or Passover and have a most enjoyable Earth Day, and Arbor Day. Most of all, in honor of Administrative Professionals’ Day ~ I would like to personally thank our Assistant Town Clerk, Lynn Shaker, for her never ending help, support, and guidance through my first four years as your Town Clerk. Lynn’s professionalism, knowledge, and courtesy is demonstrated daily in her interaction with residents and visitors, alike. Lynn is a valued member of the Town Hall Team and we all are so fortunate to benefit from her many contributions. Thank you Lynn for being you!
Thank you all for taking the time to read my monthly updates and thank you Rehoboth Reporter for faithfully publishing my article every month. We wish you all a most enjoyable April and as a friendly reminder, taxes are due Monday, May 2nd, annual Excise Taxes were due April 3, 2017, yearly dog licenses were due April 1, 2017, and Annual Census forms were due January 31, 2017. I look forward to chatting with you again in May and hopefully seeing you at our Annual Town Meeting on Monday, May 8th. I/we hope you all enjoy the beautiful spring weather.
Laura & Lynn