Survey reveals stipends paid to office holders varies widely

11 years ago

By Joseph Cyr
Staff Writer
    Being elected to serve on a town council, board of selectmen or school board can be a thankless job filled with many long hours. Elected officials are often under constant scrutiny by townspeople who may not agree with a vote that is taken.
    But did you know those elected positions also come with a stipend?

    The Houlton Pioneer Times conducted a survey of what local selectmen, town councilors and school board representatives are paid for their service in their respective communities and compared those numbers to other municipalities. The amounts vary dramatically, depending on the size of the community.
School boards
    Historically, being elected to a school board was an unpaid position. However, a recent change in state law allowed school districts to start compensating board members for their services. Individual school boards in the state have the ability to set the rate at which their members will be paid.
    Most school boards have 12-15 meetings per year (one monthly meeting plus three to four special meetings). Workshops are not typically counted as a paid meeting.
    A breakdown of local school board stipends is as follows:
    RSU 29 school board — Members are paid $25 per meeting for regular and special school board meetings of the full board. Committee meetings are not counted as a paid meeting.
    SAD 70 school board — Members are paid $10 per meeting, for every regular or special board meeting. Committee meetings are not counted as a paid meeting.
    According to Lori Lenentine, clerk for the superintendent at SAD 70, an attendance sheet is kept for every board meeting. In the final payroll of June, Lenentine tabulates how many meetings each board member attended and cuts them a check for the proper amount.
    However, she said several school board members take that check and donate the funds to the district’s Dollars for Scholars program.
    RSU 50 (Southern Aroostook and Katahdin) — Members are paid $15 for each monthly and special board meeting. The board chairman receives $25 per meeting.
    SAD 14 (Danforth) — Members are not paid for their services, according to Danforth school officials. SAD 14 school board members are voluntary.
Municipal offices
    The seven members of the Houlton Town Council receive a lump sum of $500 for the year, with the council chairman receiving an additional $100.
    Hodgdon selectmen also receive a lump sum of $500 for the year, with the council chairman receiving an additional $100.
    Ludlow pays its board of selectmen $50 for every regular monthly or special meeting and the annual town meeting. Therefore, each selectman earns a minimum of $650 (12 regular monthly meetings and one town meeting). The town currently has three selectmen, but is expanding to a five-member board starting in March 2014.
    Hammond pays a lump sum for to its board members. The first selectmen receives $1,100 per year, while the other selectmen receive $650 per year.
    Littleton has a five-member select board and pays its selectmen $200 per year, with the chairman earning $800.
    The five members of the Monticello select board are paid $500 per year, with the chairman receiving an additional $100.
    Merrill has a three-member board and pays its selectmen $1,000 per year.
    Smyrna has five selectmen who earn $1,000 each for the year.
    Oakfield pays its five selectmen $750 per year. The chairman does not receive any additional stipend.
    Island Falls pays its chairman $1,000, while the remaining four selectmen earn $900 per year.
    A comparison of other Aroostook County municipalities reveals, Fort Fairfield (population 3,455) pays its council chairman and councilors a $1,000, stipend for the year; Ashland (population 1,445) pays its councilors $30 per meeting, with the chairman earning a $100 stipend; Presque Isle (population 9,241) pays its council chairman $2,000 while councilors earn $1,500.
    Downstate, a look at communities of similar size reveals:
    • Waldoboro (population 5,092) pays its selectboard members $1,390.
    • Rockland (population 7,385) pays its mayor (which is the equivalent of a council chairman) a $1,000 stipend, while council members earn $800.
    • Belfast (population 6,653) pays its mayor $1,200, while councilors receive $1,000.
    • On the high end, Portland (population 63,061) pays its councilors $5,812; Limington (population 3,898) pays its selectboard chair $6,500; and Benton (population 2,682) pays its selectboard chair $9,000. The selectboard chair for Deer Isle is a salaried position at $26,000 per year.
    Editor’s note: Some of the information contained in this article was obtained from the Maine Municipal Association’s 2012 Salary Survey Report.