Gallagher’s New Idea #3: End BOH stipend
NEW YEAR, NEW IDEA (Part 3): The current town budget appropriates $5,273 to pay a stipend to the three members of the Fairhaven Board of Health. Each member is eligible to be paid $1,757 each and, while I have learned that two current members forgo the stipend, one still accepts and the funds are annually appropriated in full.
At the October 20th Town Meeting, a resident made a motion to reduce the total amount allocated to $3.00, effectively reducing the individual stipends to $1.00 per member. The motion required a two-thirds vote to pass. The final vote was 80 in favor and 51 in opposition. While easily winning a majority of Town Meeting members votes (61%) the motion failed by just 8 votes to secure the two-thirds majority required for passage.
I think it was pretty obvious that Town Meeting was sending a clear message. I’ve included a link to the video of the October meeting below. The discussion on this topic begins at the 28:00 minute mark and ends at the 35:00 minute mark. You can watch the video, listen to the comments and take away from it what you will.
When trust and confidence is shaken it takes deliberate effort and consistency for it to be rebuilt. I commend the two current Board of Health members who do not accept the annual stipend and respect whatever brought them to that decision. If elected in April, I too will not accept the annual stipend. Serving on the Board representing the people of Fairhaven would be, in my opinion, an honor in and of itself.
NEW IDEA: I would go even one step further and move that the $5,273 not be included in the next Board of Health budget, effectively ending the stipend for all members. No other Board in Fairhaven is paid, except for the Selectmen. Given their workload with meetings, committee meetings and other town related activities it is reasonable, in my opinion, for those members to receive a stipend. While the $1,757 set aside for the members of the Board of Health may be small to some, removing it would be a clear signal by the Board that they both heard and understood the message telegraphed to them at Town Meeting.
Kevin Gallagher, Fairhaven, Candidate for Board of Health
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