FLEMINGTON, NJ – Hunterdon County Clerk Mary Melfi and her staff have demanding jobs.
Melfi told the Freeholders at their meeting yesterday that while revenue so far this year is about $2.35 million, it comes at a price.
This year, “we actually touched 38,626 pieces of paper,” she said, about 10 percent more than last year.
That what’s involved when you’re responsible for things as varied as deeds, mortgages and mortgage releases, maps, military discharges, certificates of incorporation, mechanics liens and trade names. All of those documents have to be indexed, filed and digitally imaged and microfilmed.
The office also has general supervision over all elections held within the county. That includes sending out the absentee ballots, ensuring official sample voting machine ballots are printed and distributed to Hunterdon voters, and tabulating the election returns.
Then there are the weddings. She officiates about 150 weddings every year, and then donates her fee to SAFE in Hunterdon, the Flemington-based group that helps victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
The money adds up. Melfi began her third five-year term as clerk last January, and her total donation to SAFE has passed a milestone and is now more than $50,000.
In addition to the official duties Melfi and her staff fulfill, there are also the unofficial duties they undertake.
Inquiries and complaints to her office – which she told the Freeholders range from “there’s a dead squirrel in front of the courthouse” to “Nobody picks up my garbage. I live in Stockton” – sometimes exceed her legal obligations.
But Melfi said all of the staff is trained so that if someone asks a question, “They’re going to get an answer.”
Getting those answers is now easier. The Freeholders approved changes yesterday to expand the Clerk's office hours an extra 45 minutes each day. It's now open from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
And those are just the regular office hours. For passports extended hours are also available. For example, on Dec. 14 the office will be open until 7 p.m. On Saturday Dec. 16, the office will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. More information about the office's extended hours are on its website.
In addition to crediting her staff, Melfi credits the county staff that supports the office, including purchasing and information technology. But for all of her use technology, Melfi told the Freeholders that there are limits.
“We don’t have voicemail,” Melfi said. “You’re never going to see me, ever, come in here and ask for voicemail.
“Call the County Clerk’s office, somebody answers the phone,” Melfi said. “Or if nobody answers the phone, we’re closed.”
Freeholder Director John Lanza didn’t hesitate to call her the state’s best County Clerk.
Freeholder Matt Holt offered his own impression of the Clerk’s Office. When he visited recently to get a new passport, “They treated me just like the public, which they should,” Holt said. “It was a phenomenal experience and probably the best passport picture I’ve ever had.”