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Hingham selectmen will keep their stipend

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  January 24, 2014 12:11 PM

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A proposal to eliminate the stipend received by Hingham selectmen has been quashed by the board.

At budget discussions Thursday night, outgoing Selectman Bruce Rabuffo proposed eliminating the stipend for future board members, saying the amount was negligible.

"$2500 -- it’s a silly amount to begin with,” Rabuffo said in a phone conversation prior to the vote.

Yet neither remaining selectman was supportive of doing away with the cash.

“I’ve served on a volunteer basis for 19 years,” said Selectman Paul Healey at the meeting. “It was kind of nice to get a little something in the mail after going to the third floor. Now you’re going to take that away.”

Selectmen make $2,000 annually for the job, with the chair pulling in $2,500. The salaries were reinstated in 2013 after officials took a $500 salary cut during the recession.

Compared with some other towns that pay public officials, the amount is relatively low. However, it isn’t unusual for public officials to receive no stipend whatsoever.

Rabuffo said he has long wanted to do away with the salaries. He even asked the Personnel Board to look into the matter three years ago, although they never did, he said.

“I just think it’s more of an irritant,” Rabuffo said over the phone. “Then you have to generate a check. You can still get some other benefits. Some people want to be a public official because they get the benefits of the town.”

At the meeting, Rabuffo said he further supported the idea after discovering last year that because of the stipend, he couldn't deduct expenses from his taxes.

Selectwoman Irma Lauter said she wasn’t aware she could deduct expenses as a selectman, but asked that the salary remain.

“[It] won’t even pay a month’s lease on a Range Rover,” Lauter said. “I think we leave it alone”

Without the necessary support, Rabuffo withdrew the request.

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