WEST NEWBURY — Selectmen unanimously turned down a $1,500 stipend allocated to them by voters at the annual Town Meeting last month. Instead of the proposed $500 each, the three-member board will continue its recent practice of receiving an annual stipend of $1 each.
Joe Anderson, the newest member on the board, said he viewed himself as a volunteer. “I’m not taking any pay,” he said.
Chairman Bert Knowles, Jr. said he has also declined to take a stipend for the past several years, while colleague Glenn Kemper pointed out that when the motion to increase stipends was made at Town Meeting this spring “we all voted against it.”
Although Town Meeting appropriates the amount needed to fund operations, it’s the Board of Selectmen who ultimately set the wage levels.
Each of the three members of the Board of Assessors will also receive a $1 stipend and Town Moderator Kathleen “KC” Swallow will continue to receive a $200 stipend, or $100 per Town Meeting. The Board of Registrars receives a $500 stipend annually and the Town Clerk gets a statutory stipend of $150 for his ex officio status on that board.
Finance Director Warren Sproul had proposed to increase the stipend for the Board of Assessors, arguing that the members must take courses to maintain the necessary certifications. But the selectmen and the Finance Committee chose to instead reimburse members for any costs incurred related to serving the town, and so, a $1,500 was budgeted for expenses instead.
Elected officials who are compensated are eligible to access the town’s health insurance plan as well. According to an opinion issued by Town Counsel Michael McCarron in March 2012, “There is no minimum compensation required for participation. Non elected employees must work a minimum of 20 hours per week, but this does not apply to elected officials.”
State statute requires the town to pay 50 percent of the cost for employee group health insurance. Varying contribution rates for different employees are not allowed.
“An elected official must receive compensation in order to participate, but if the elected official receives any compensation, the town must contribute 50 percent of the cost of group health insurance,” McCarron wrote.
In another area of town finances discussed Monday night, as of July 1, part-time dispatchers will be paid $15.70 per hour and will receive the same percentage increase granted generally to most non-union employees, according to a memo provide by police Chief Lisa Holmes.
On-the-job training will be compensated at $13.40 per hour; a 4- hour minimum at one and one half times base rate will be compensated for work-related court appearances when the dispatcher is not otherwise scheduled to work. Dispatchers called in for Matron Duty or Prison Watch get paid a minimum of 3- hours at time and half.
Employee who work on New Years Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, President’s Day, Patriots Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day or Christmas will be paid time and a half of their base hourly rate.
Reserve dispatchers working a 4 p.m. to midnight shift receive a 5 percent pay differential, with a 10 percent shift differential for dispatchers working from midnight to 8 a.m.
Reserve police officers will be paid $18.15 per hour beginning July 1. Reserve officers working outside detail will be paid the same hourly compensation as established in the current collective bargaining agreement the town holds with the Teamsters. Unless the detail assignment is canceled at least one half hour beforehand, the employee will get a minimum of 4 hours pay, regardless of the number of hours worked. Details running between 4 and 8 hours will be paid for 8 hours. Any time beyond 8 hours will be paid at one and a half times the rate established in the police contract.
Holmes describes the primary function of the reserve officer as “to be available for shifts vacated by full time officers, in particular during holidays and vacation periods.” All reserves must commit to working at least two shifts per month.
Officers receive a 5 percent shift differential from 3 to 11 p.m.; 7.5 percent from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., and 10 percent from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Protocols for pay increases, court time appearances, and holiday pay are similar to those established for part-time dispatchers.
Knowles also proposed including a review of payroll warrants as part of the regular agenda going forward so that the board can sign them during public meetings. Kemper said that he would continue his practice of not signing payroll warrants as he still lacks confidence in the process.
Selectmen announced 3 to 4 vacancies on the Finance Committee and one opening for an at-large member of the Community Preservation Committee. Contact the Board of Selectmen’s office for more information.