EAST LONGMEADOW – Town Treasurer/Collector/Clerk Thomas Florence was bestowed with a unique honor recently, becoming the first president of the Massachusetts Collectors and Treasurers Association
(MCTA) to hail from Hampden County in 50 years.
Florence was elected to the one-year term by his peers and is the first chair of the association from western Massachusetts since Susan Kelley of Lee held the seat from 2006 to 2007. West Springfield’s Thomas Fitzgerald was the last president to serve a Hampden County community, having held the position from 1964 to 1965.
“It is an honor,” Florence said. “These are people that you meet and develop relationships with through the networking the association has and it’s good to know they have the trust and respect in you to nominate you to this position.”
The purpose of the MCTA is to assist treasurers and collectors statewide in the continued pursuit of excellence in their field through continuing education and training in up-to-date techniques for managing public funds. The MCTA may also bring forth legislation deemed to be in the best interest of the financial well being of the 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth and oppose legislation that does not further that goal.
“What’s great about this association is they put you in a position to succeed,” Florence said. “There’s a lot of networking and camaraderie in this association and its members are very good about sharing information.”
The MCTA was formed in 1928 after a merger between the Massachusetts Tax Collectors Association and the Massachusetts Treasurers Association, becoming an official Massachusetts corporation in 1953.
As the president, Florence presides as the chair at all MCTA regular meetings and is also the chair of the organization’s ethics committee. He also serves as a member ex-officio of all of the association’s other committees and boards and serves as the dean of the MCTA Annual School, which takes place at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with the intention of providing education and training to collectors and treasurers.
Florence said he was excited at the opportunity to not only represent East Longmeadow and Hampden County as president, but also planned to utilize the position to bring new information and ideas to the area.
“Having a president from this area can be a great benefit to western Massachusetts. You can bring legislation or learn any efficiencies that they may be using out east in bigger county associations that can be used out here,” he said.
Among the legislation the MCTA is currently supporting is a bill that would require town employees to receive pay via direct deposit.
“The benefit is cost savings,” Florence explained. “If everyone gets direct deposit, you don’t have to print any checks. You conserve valuable resources, including staff time and printing costs, by moving to this efficient, online automated process.”
He also said the MCTA is working to create legislation that would provide a stipend for certified assistant town collectors and treasurers. Currently town treasurers and collectors receive a $1,000 stipend for being certified, but assistants do not receive any extra pay for their certifications. He explained that with current laws and practices, an increasing number of municipalities are turning to certified professionals for assistant positions. A proposed $500 stipend would be a way to help ensure retention of qualified employees.
Florence added he planned to continue fostering the MCTA’s commitment to collaboration and hoped to extend that to regional organizations.
“As president I want to try to cross lines between the county collector/treasurer associations,” he said. “There’s a wealth of information regarding the implementation of policies and procedures within the cities and towns from individual counties. I want to encourage increased networking and ongoing communication between counties.”