The town of Norlina has closed its Town Hall lobby to the public on a temporary basis due to a staffing shortage caused by the recent resignation of its payables clerk. The matter was discussed during the Norlina Town Board’s regular monthly meeting Monday night.

Town Director of Operations Blaine Reese told commissioners that the clerk accepted a similar position in another area that brought a higher hourly wage than Norlina’s $14. 

He reported that the town posted a couple of needed positions, including the payables clerk, on an online job search site and received some applications. However, Reese added that competing with other entities during the current labor force shortage — especially those who are able to offer higher wages — poses a challenge for a small town like Norlina.

Reese said that this region of North Carolina has felt the impact of the current labor force shortage as a number of businesses have been forced to change their hours of operation.

In the past, Norlina’s town clerk/finance officer and employees handling such day to day activities as water bill payments kept Town Hall fully staffed during regular hours of operation.

However, Reese said that the resignation of the payables clerk leaves a part-time employee and the town clerk/finance officer to staff Town Hall. On days when the part-time employee is not working, one person is left to handle all office activities.

Reese said that additional interviews for the payables clerk position were scheduled for Tuesday. 

He said that the town faces a difficult decision of whether to raise its hourly wage to attract more applicants for the full-time payables clerk position, to hire another part-time person to ensure that at least two people can staff Town Hall at all times, or to take another route.

In the meantime, the Town Hall lobby will remain closed until additional employees are hired. Payments will be handled at the drive-through window.

Other business

In other business, the board: 

• Approved a resolution to adopt an updated Tar River Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan covering Warren, Franklin, Vance and Granville counties and their municipalities. Governing boards in the region covered by the plan were asked to adopt the updated version. Reese noted that the updated plan covers floods and wildfires.

• Plans to hold a work session to discuss concerns brought by the public about noise at events such as concerts to also consider other sources of noise. The board could review the town’s existing noise ordinance.

• Discussed the possibility of participating in a Regional Job Fair to be held from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14, at the Warren County Recreation Complex. The event is sponsored by the Kerr-Tar Workforce Development Board, NC Works, Warren County, Vance-Granville Community College and Piedmont Community College.