"It's just a part-time job," said Julia Jeffers, the self-effacing clerk-treasurer of Barnesville, an incorporated town of 155 residents nestled in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain in upper Montgomery County.

For the record, Jeffers is 89, the town's oldest resident and the fourth town clerk since Barnesville's incorporation in 1888, having held the post now for 35 years. She is also the town's only paid employee. And her home, formerly a two-room schoolhouse attended by four of her children, is the closest thing Barnesville has to a town hall.

"Everyone is welcome, and I have lots of chairs," she wrote town residents in the latest edition of the monthly Barnesville Bulletin, urging them to attend the town meetings, held in her living room.

"The Commission of Barnesville met in the home of the clerk," is how she begins each month's minutes, which she neatly types on an old-fashioned typewriter in her dining room. "Our meetings are very informal," said the town clerk. "We don't go by Robert's Rules."

The dining room also houses a file cabinet full of town records, but her office is mainly in the living room, where she works at an old card table.

"She's there all day, every day," said Elizabeth H. Tolbert, president of the three-member town commission. "I'm sort of the icing on the cake and Mrs. Jeffers does the nuts and bolts. Find me another clerk on duty 24 hours a day."

A notary, Jeffers used to send out tax bills, but the county took over that task seven years ago, saving her some trouble and the town some postage. She also administered the town's $1 automobile tax and $1 animal tax, which are also now history.

Jeffers figures she spends 22 to 25 hours a month tending to town business, which includes keeping the books, typing minutes, writing letters, issuing building permits and keeping the ballot box, which is a cigar box.

Her most recent correspondence consisted of thank-you letters (she keeps carbon copies) to two people who helped with the town's annual Christmas party. One man, from the Knights of Columbus, contributed $25 and a box of Tootsie Rolls. To another man, who played the accordion, she wrote, "It added so much, and we hope the cold and the playing did not make your arthritis more painful."

Her one-page monthly bulletin is a compendium of small-town news, notes and observations by its author. The weather, illnesses, elections, marriages and graduations are all staples.

"I remind everyone living within the incorporated limits of Barnesville to put that information on your {state} income tax forms," she wrote last month. "It will not raise your tax one bit, but will mean a little more income for the Town, and we can use it."

Last year, she typed the town election ballot, which was then photocopied. It was the town's 80th election but its first "printed ballot."

In her newsletter, she reported that 117 of 131 voters turned out, even though there was no contest for the three town commission seats.

"I'm pleasantly busy, but I like it," said the town clerk.

For all her troubles, she receives the lordly sum of $650 a year.

"They used to ask me why I don't run for commissioner," she said. "I said 'Why do that?' I'm the only one who's paid. They asked me a couple of times if I want more pay. I said 'No, I don't need it.' . . . I'd do it for nothing."

Her low pay confounds the big government bureaucracies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, which wrote her recently to ask why no unemployment tax was being withheld from the paycheck of the Barnesville town employee.

"I never withheld from my pay because it wasn't necessary because it wasn't big enough," she told a woman at the IRS. She said the woman told her, "You don't have to worry."

Jeffers, a widow, keeps an old Buick in the garage behind the house. She no longer drives it, but a son, Donald, who lives up the road and looks after her, ferries her to places such as the beauty shop over in Poolesville.

Mayor Tolbert takes her to Maryland Municipal League meetings "when the weather's fit," Jeffers said. When she was 83 years old, the American Society for Public Administration gave her a special award. "Now I know how the movie stars feel when they receive the Oscar," she said.

Julia and Mark P. Jeffers were married in 1918, after he returned from World War I service. She was from Keyser, W.Va., near Cumberland, Md., and he was from Oakland, in Garrett County. In 1924, they moved from the mountains to Southern Maryland to try tobacco farming but didn't much like it.

They moved up to Frederick County and then, in 1933, down to Montgomery, where they owned and operated a dairy farm a mile outside of town. They moved into the converted schoolhouse in 1943. By then, four sons had joined the Army, and another the Navy in World War II. One son, in the Army Air Corps, died in the war.

She has five surviving children, the youngest a daughter, 53, who Jeffers proudly notes is going to college, 23 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren. Their pictures adorn the walls, television and bookshelves of her home.

After her husband sold the farm, he worked as a guard at the National Institutes of Health. Julia Jeffers also worked at NIH in the accounting department during the war and for a dozen years after her husband's death in 1958. He was president of the town commission when he died. Three decades later, she's still listed in the phone book as Mrs. Mark P. Jeffers.

She retired from NIH in 1970, but not from her job as town clerk. "I'm still here," she said. "I'm still enjoying myself."