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‘You just have a sense that it’s time for change’: Longtime Greenfield finance director retires

  • Greenfield Finance Director Marjorie “Lane” Kelly sits in her office in Town Hall on her last day on the job. Recorder Staff/Aviva Luttrell

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/30/2017 10:25:37 PM

GREENFIELD — When she started working for the town, Marjorie “Lane” Kelly was a part-time employee who entered data about dog licenses.

Twenty-three years later, after working her way up the ranks, she’s retiring from her job as Greenfield’s finance director — a position she’s held since 2003. In that role, Kelly was more than just the town’s chief bookkeeper, taking on administrative responsibilities, overseeing departments and working with Town Council, and occasionally filling in for a vacationing mayor.

Kelly’s last day was Friday.

“It’s diverse. It’s never the same thing every day. In my case, because of the amount of institutional knowledge I carry after 23 years, I tend be involved in an awful lot of things,” Kelly said. “It takes some stamina, it takes a lot of patience sometimes, and that’s because municipal finance is a very complex subject. It’s not how long you’ve been in politics, it’s really what you understand of it that makes the difference.”

Kelly, now 67, began working for the town part-time in 1994 when she was hired to input dog license data. Originally from Virginia, she came to Greenfield to be the store manager at Sears. Once she left that job, Kelly started her own businesses, but wanted something more permanent.

She moved up to census processing in the Clerk’s Office, then became the Town Council administrative assistant, assistant collector, and finally treasurer collector. When Greenfield switched to a city form of government in 2003, Kelly became the director of municipal finance and administration.

Besides the change in government, Kelly said she’s also seen the town grow immensely during her career.

“There’s been a lot of work done — both mayors have done an awful lot to advance the town and develop business and make Greenfield a very active community,” she said. “A lot of communities in the commonwealth can’t say that right now. A lot are struggling and don’t have reserves or a lot of activity, but in our town we’ve been able to build the reserves and develop a lot of activity.”

Mayor William Martin said Kelly has been an “enormous, incredible wealth of information and assistance,” helping with plans on all levels of local government and providing information about everything from past practice to Massachusetts General Laws.

“She’ll be missed here, but she knows she’s always on speed dial, and she has no problems with that,” he said.

Kelly said what she’ll miss most is interacting with other town employees.

During last week’s Town Council meeting, Town Clerk Deborah Tuttle thanked Kelly for always answering the phone when she called, calming her down when she was stressed and always leaving her door open.

“We’ve been co-workers for 23 years, we’ve seen a lot of changes together, we’ve done a lot of work together and we’ve even gone through some tough moments together, but we still had time to create a personal friendship,” Tuttle said before giving Kelly a bouquet of flowers.

Town Accountant Elizabeth Braccia will take over as finance director, while Kelly’s administrative responsibilities will go to Mark Smith, the town’s new general administration director.

“I’ve always been told by people who retired ahead of me, ‘You’ll know when it’s time.’ You just have a sense that it’s time for change, it’s time for some new blood,” Kelly said. “I think that there just needs to be a new outlook on things.”

As for her retirement plans? Kelly said she’ll play a little golf and enjoy her garden over the summer, and see what happens come fall. She doesn’t plan to leave Greenfield.

“I feel very fortunate to have done what I’ve done for the last 23 years and I hope that will continue, that the people working in town will cooperate and be cohesive and work toward the same goals and not fight each other. Together, everyone will get a lot farther than if we’re divided.”

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