Resolution pertaining to the annual stipends received by members of the Select Board and other committees

Petitioner: Nicole McClelland TMM11, Mariah Nobrega TMM4, Neil Wishinsky TMM5

Special Town Meeting, November 2019

The objective of this resolution is two-fold:

1) To professionalize the board and compensate for increased expectations. Town government is a 335 million dollar enterprise (FY20). The town has been very fortunate to have had Select Board members thus far who have had the dedication and skills to run it effectively. However, the pressures on Town government are continuing and the challenges appear to be growing more complex; the skills these positions demand, and the time commitment, are likely to grow. We need to proactively ensure that we are attracting the best candidates for the job, but many of the most-qualified people have other opportunities to spend their time, including compensated opportunities. Providing a larger stipend may overcome that challenge, while still representing a miniscule fraction of the overall cost of town government; increasing the stipend value from $18,500 total per year to $220,000 per year will cost just over $200,000 (.06% of the budget). While this amount is substantial and reduces resources available elsewhere, it is time for the Town to finally bite the bullet and pay what these positions are really worth.

Further, the expectations on our Select Board members have increased: with the advent of cell phones and e-mail, they are expected to be "on" 24/7, in addition to attending multiple meetings and community events each week. It is an unrealistic expectation that a volunteer Select Board member, currently compensated at approximately $0.35/hr, would have the capacity to respond to constituents and engage with the community at the same level as a properly paid municipal official. An additional advantage of proper compensation for the Select Board is that members may be able to reduce or cut back on other obligations, thus allowing for more responsiveness.

2) Remove a major barrier to participation at the executive level of town government and attract a broader array of candidates. Many Brookline inhabitants face serious financial pressure to live here. As documented in "Understanding Brookline" almost one-third of Brookline residents live in households below the 300% poverty threshold, a marker of economic insecurity. Even for the other 70% of inhabitants who do not fall below that line, it may be very hard to afford to participate: childcare is frequently $15/hour or more, meaning a Select Board member could easily pay $500 a month in childcare just to attend the biweekly meetings. Increasing the number of people who can afford to participate as a member of the Select Board is an inclusive practice that is likely to result in competitive elections, the hallmark of thriving democracy. To date the Select Board has not been representative of much of Brookline inhabitants, skewing older/retired and white. Though Brookline is nearly 20% Asian, there has been no Asian member; the first Hispanic/Latino member was elected this year, the first Black member elected in 2015.

Official Town Meeting Vote Select Board Advisory Board

No Action

No Action


Declined to Present a Recommendation


Final Result:

No Action

Community Organization Recommendations
PAX Green Caucus

Favorable Action

Official Text of the Article

VOTED that the Town adopt the following resolution:

WHEREAS Select Board members carry heavy, time-demanding responsibilities, particularly the Select Board Chair, and

WHEREAS though the stipend increased in 2011 to $4500 for the Chair and $3500 for other members, those amounts do not represent the true effort involved, essentially demanding an average of 20+ hours per week of time, and

WHEREAS many town residents who might otherwise be interested cannot afford to provide their time to this level and therefore the current system is exclusionary and eliminates potentially excellent candidates, and

WHEREAS all Brookline inhabitants and employees will benefit from an inclusive Select Board elected from competitive races.


1. The Town is encouraged to raise the annual stipends of the Select Board to $40,000 (members) and $60,000 (chair) effective for the Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2020, and

2. Such stipend should increase annually by an amount equal to the general increase granted to Department Heads pending an affirmative action by Town Meeting to ratify that stated in the budget Conditions of Appropriation.

3. This experience will be used to inform a future review of the compensation status of other committees, with a focus on the School Committee.