NORTHFIELD – The chairman of the nominating committee plans to develop a proposal on increasing council allowances that could be presented to voters at the annual municipal meeting.

The topic, originally introduced by Chairman Heath Cummings at a February 8 meeting, was revisited on Tuesday, following a March 30 finance committee meeting in which members voted unanimously for not recommending the proposed increase in Selectboard allocations. The finance committee also opted to have the increase considered in an individual term of office article of the town assembly, rather than in the omnibus budget.

“They wanted the city to step in, which I totally agree with,” Cummings said Tuesday.

As part of the fiscal year 2022 budget, Selectboard members receive a stipend of $2,219, while the chair receives $2,358. While a cost-of-living adjustment is factored into the omnibus budget for fiscal year 2023, Cummings suggested in February that the president be paid $3,500 and members be paid $3,200 over the course of the year. FY23. Across the five Selectboard members, this would equate to $16,300 for the year, compared to $11,235 for FY22, an increase of 45%.

Cummings, along with Selectboard member Alex Meisner, pointed to the amount of work the role entails, extending beyond bi-weekly meetings, as well as the seriousness of the decisions the board must make, as justification for the increase. . Member Mary Bowen also expressed her support for the change.

“I think we are now at a pace and a style that will allow Northfield government to function properly,” Meisner said on Tuesday, noting that he has served on the council for about four years and believes that the increase proposed by Cummings is correct. “We are in long meetings, we have busy agendas where we make a lot of decisions – fiscal, political.”

As in February, however, Bernard “Bernie” Boudreau said he was against an increase in allowances.

“I’m a volunteer type guy. Getting anything is great for me,” Boudreau said. “I look and there are a lot of things in the city that are going to be very expensive in the future,” referring to the public security complex, in particular. “I prefer the money to be invested in things like that.”

Cummings also spoke of an “imbalance” when it comes to funding requests, referring to the assessment of more than $4 million that Northfield is giving to the Pioneer Valley Regional School District. Likewise, he noted the Finance Committee’s recommendation to support the Planning Council’s allocation request, which should also be the subject of an article on the terms of reference of the Annual Municipal Meeting. The five members of the Planning Council currently receive no stipend and have requested $6,000. On March 30, the finance committee voted unanimously to recommend that the board receive $4,000 – $1,500 for the chair, $1,000 for the vice-chair and $500 for the other three members.

“I have a bit of a problem with how it’s been approached,” Cummings said of the finance committee’s reluctance to consider an increase in Selectboard allocations, compared to other funding proposals that received his support. “There doesn’t seem to be any objectivity in discussing the comparisons, really listening to us, having a lot of discussions.”

While the Selection Committee and the Finance Committee have another joint meeting On the budget and term recommendations from the annual municipal meeting Monday at 6 p.m., board member Barbara “Bee” Jacque called on Cummings to firm up a proposal justifying the requested increases. She suggested that the proposal include information such as the number of hours of work per week that the selection committee role entails, both in meetings and at home; what salary this equates to per hour; what additional responsibilities does the president have; and what is the average stipend for a Selectboard member in Franklin County. The Selectboard reviewed data from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), which publishes an annual survey of wages and salaries, and also tasked City Administrator Andrea Llamas with finding stipend information for Massachusetts cities. having populations similar to Northfield.

“Quite frankly, with a percentage increase, where the discussion ended at the last meeting and also with the finance committee, the percentage seems huge,” Jacque pointed out. “If there’s a proposition with, ‘Here’s what all the other cities are doing that we think are relevant’, including a couple on the cape because they’re similar in size, I just think that would be helpful. “

Jacque said she thinks it’s “always more difficult to get a proposal across to people if it only focuses on one factor”, such as the percentage increase, but information about responsibilities and comparisons would be helpful to voters.

“These are all points that people can absorb and appreciate,” she said.

Cummings has agreed to write a proposal in time for the next selection committee meeting, as the city nears its deadline to firm up the articles of the annual municipal meeting terms of reference.

“If we decide we want to add it (on the mandate) and leave it to voters, we will have a proposal that can sway us in one direction or another,” he said. “If, as a board, we feel we are comfortable presenting the data and information contained in this proposal, regardless of the dollar amounts we decide, then I say we will go there. go and we leave that up to the voters.”

“You may not get my support for a raise,” Boudreau added, “but I will support you to release data for voters. … I’m not against letting them decide.

Reach Shelby Ashline at 413-772-0261, ext. 270 or [email protected]