I’ve been following a story out of Greenfield that sadly, may be the future for many cash-strapped towns. The subject is a town employee named Lester Reed, who is being laid off to save money and being replaced by an outside contractor. I used to play basketball with the soft-spoken Reed, and he’s a good guy who has worked as Greenfield’s Assistant Assessor for 23 years.
But now Mayor William Martin and Greenfield’s chief assessor, Audrey Murphy, are defending themselves, saying the move makes sense and will save more than $25-50K each year. That’s because Mayflower Associates of Plymouth is doing three years of Reed’s job for $100,000, and Reid was making $50,000 plus $12.5 in benefits. Murphy was quoted in the Recorder, saying “people are emotional and scared to death right now. They don’t think anyone is going to be in the office, that’s not true, I’m still going to be here every day.”
She said that one person just can’t do the job the town needs to be done, and Mayflower has proven over 18 years that they know how to find undervalued property. Think of it from the mayor’s point of view. He has to balance the budget that’s been hit hard by state aid cuts and valuation decreases. With a staffer, they have to pay the salary and the bennies, and with the resources of Mayflower Valuation, the town has already saved between $250,000 and $300,000 that the company found in new growth.
In other words, these people are worth hiring, and with the myriad regulations and paperwork, it may just be too much for one assistant who has been on the job for two decades. But that’s hard to stomach for Les, who fortunately at age 63 is close to retirement.
What other companies will approach small towns like Greenfield in the coming years with the same idea—if you outsource office jobs like assessors to us, we’ll use our larger database and skills honed by working on dozens of towns to save you money, and find properties that are paying too little in property tax.
The next time a proposition 2 1/2 override comes up, and one side will squawk about not wanting to pay more taxes, you can bet they’ll agree with the mayor and be happy with his decision.