Plymouth County Commission member asks treasurer and register to take pay cut

Tamara Race

Plymouth County Treasurer Thomas O’Brien and Plymouth County Register of Deeds John Buckley balked at county commission member John Riordan’s request for a 10 percent salary cut, calling it “grandstanding.”

Cash-strapped county officials are hoping to avoid layoffs this year and next, but Riordan fears they are inevitable.

“I asked them to take a voluntary cut before laying anyone off,” Riordan said. “I think they should lead by example like the Fall River mayor, who took a 10 percent salary cut before announcing layoffs.”

Last year, the commissioners cut their own pay by 20 percent while launching furloughs to balance the budget.

The Plymouth County Advisory Board further slashed commissioners’ salaries for this year by 75 percent, citing falling revenues.

The annual pay for the part-time position went from $28,000 to $7,500.

O’Brien said Riordan’s request is just payback for the hit commissioners took.

“I understand their frustration,” he said. “Their pay was cut, but we’re looking for real long-term revenue solutions.”

All county governments are hurting because of the drop in real estate recording fees, Buckley said.

Buckley earns $113,000 a year.

“There are 21 registers in the same boat, but I’m the only one being asked to take a pay cut,” he said. “I don’t like to be singled out.”

O’Brien, who makes about $116,000 annually, says his financial advisory committee believes the county can avoid layoffs.

“If commissioners don’t believe our numbers, they should offer a solution,” he said. “We’ve offered them numerous new revenue opportunities and they have not acted on them. Commissioner Riordan is creating controversy without a real solution.”

Riordan doubts the state will pay its $425,000 overdue rent for the former Plymouth courthouse and doubts the county will reap $200,000 from selling sand and gravel, leaving a $625,000 shortfall in this year’s budget.

O’Brien said the state has promised to pay the rent and blames commissioners for dragging their feet on the sand-and-gravel bid process.

Commissioners asked both Buckley and O’Brien to present, at next week’s commission meeting, department budgets reflecting 10 and 15 percent cuts, including cuts in their salaries.

Buckley and O’Brien said they will comply with that request.

Tamara Race may be reached at trace@ledger.com.