Possible stipend reinstatement in the works for elected officials

Jun 21, 2021

Dartmouth’s elected officials could once again receive yearly stipends.

On June 21, the Select Board unanimously voted to establish a committee that will study and recommend if those in elected office should receive a yearly stipend, and if so, what that payment should be. In 2009, Town Meeting members discontinued stipends for elected officials, including the Select Board, Planning Board, and town assessors.

According to Board Chair Shawn McDonald, this new committee will consist of five of the town’s registered voters — elected and appointed officials will not be allowed to join.

“Hopefully we’ll get some people willing to delve into this,” he said. “If they want to delve into appointed officials, they can — but not too many appointed officials on town boards get paid.”

At this year’s Spring Town Meeting, Precinct 9 member David Faria suggested taking $36,000 from the town’s stabilization fund to potentially fund the stipends — with $5,000 appropriated for each member of the Select Board, $2,000 for each member of the School Committee, and $1,000 for the Town Moderator.

Courtney Cohen of Precinct 8 was also in favor of reinstating stipends, adding that it would incentivize more residents to run for public office.

“It’s time to have some diversity within those positions,” she said. “And a stipend would encourage that.”

Ultimately, that amendment to the budget was rejected.

Nearby towns such as Acushnet currently appropriate $14,175 toward yearly stipends for its Board of Selectmen. For FY21, Fairhaven appropriated $20,060 for its three-member board.

Since this new committee is looking into a budget item, any recommendations made will need to be voted on at next year’s Spring Town Meeting.