Little-Known Cape Cod Regional Government Entity Seeking 500 Percent Raise In Stipends

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Members of Barnstable County’s Assembly of Delegates are considering a pay raise that would increase their yearly stipends from $1,000 to $5,000.

The proposed increase would add an additional $2,000 for the speaker and another $1,000 for the deputy speaker on top of the $5,000 stipend for all members.

The current budget for total stipends for the 15 delegates of $15,000 a year would increase to $78,000 a year.

“It’s long overdue,” said assembly member Mary Chaffee, who represents Brewster, during an assembly meeting Wednesday, November 1. “The Assembly of Delegates, the members of the Assembly of Delegates who are the only elected officials in county government who represent the 15 towns on the Cape, and the needs of those towns, have each received a thousand dollars per year since 1992, when ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ was number one, and Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States. That’s 31 years without a pay increase.”

Members of the assembly are also considering a change in policy that would take away the current ability of the part-time elected officials to get health insurance through the county government.

“We have a real financial risk in the current compensation package as it’s offered right now, in that the part-time elected officials in Barnstable County have the option to elect health insurance. And that should stop,” Chaffee said. “Other part-time employees of the county do not get that option. It puts the county at risk of over $500,000 per year. And I agree with the proposed ordinance that electing that option should be rescinded.”

Chaffee also said that delegates have about the same responsibilities as the three county commissioners of Barnstable County, who according to The Cape Cod Times currently make about $14,000 a year for their part-time oversight of regional government on the Cape.

Chaffee spoke during a public hearing on the proposed stipend ordinance. No one else spoke on it.

The Cape Cod Times reported the proposed pay raise on Friday, November 3. The public hearing portion of the assembly’s meeting is available as part of the video of the meeting published online.

Barnstable County consists of the 15 towns on Cape Cod.

The Assembly of Delegates is the legislative arm of county government, which plays a low-profile role on Cape Cod. Most government activities that affect residents directly come from the town or the state.

The Assembly of Delegates came into existence with the adoption of a county government charter in November 1988.

The assembly has the ability to approve or reject ordinances proposed by the country commissioners, according to the charter. The assembly also reviews proposed expenditures and performs certain other oversight tasks, including holding public hearings on certain regional policies.

Each of the 15 towns on Cape Cod elects a member of the Assembly of Delegates. The elections are usually not contested and receive little public attention.

Voting in the assembly is based on proportional representation based on the population of each town – so the delegate representing Barnstable, the Cape’s largest town, gets far more voting weight than the delegate representing Truro, the Cape’s smallest town.

If adopted, the Assembly of Delegates pay raise would not take effect before January 1, 2025.


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