Winthrop lags far behind other cities, towns
There is no doubt that the motion made by Town Councilor Linda Calla to increase the compensation of council members from $2,600 annually to $5,200 annually (and of the council president from $5,200 to $10,400) will be greeted with skepticism in some quarters.
The chief arguments against the increases are that the town, state, and country are in a financial crisis and that doubling the compensation of council members is a bit too much. In addition, the figure of $10,400 for the council president might seem a bit on the high side in comparison to the other council members.
However, it is beyond dispute that the present compensation figure is way below that of council members in neighboring communities.
Revere city councillors receive $15,232 per year, with $16,976 for the president of the council. Each Revere councilor also receives $480 per month for expenses. Chelsea city councillors receive $8,000 per year.
Moreover, beyond those bare comparisons, and we do not mean to be flip, the reality is that the fifty bucks per week that presently is received by our Town Council members barely pays for their gas for all of the council meetings, sub-committee meetings, and other meetings that they have to attend.
The present compensation schedule is, quite frankly, a joke, and we are being perfectly honest in saying that when we learned what the compensation figure is (we may have known it at one time, but we must have forgotten it), we laughed out loud.
We fully realize that serving on an elected board such as the Town Council is an honor. And we fully understand that many others in town serve on various boards and committees strictly as unpaid volunteers.
But no other board or committee comes close to the time and effort that is required of a Town Councilor in terms of the hours spent in Town Hall, not to mention the time that is job related out of Town Hall. Councilors are often called upon for donations to various causes. They also are called by constituents at their homes and attend many events to support local organizations.
Our grandmother Zita Quigley, who served as the Business Manager here at the Sun Transcript for many years, had two sayings apropos for this sort of situation: “What you get for nothing, is worth nothing,” and, “You get what you pay for.”
We hope that the Council approves the motion made by Linda Calla and that the voters of our community realize that it makes a lot of sense, both for the present and the future, to give Town Council members a remuneration that is more than just a token amount.