Fire chief loses out on stipend increase again

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jun 17, 2014
Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds Hope residents vote at their town meeting Monday, June 16.

Hope — Town meeting voters once again denied Fire Chief Clarence Keller an increase in his stipend Monday, June 16.

When it came time to vote on the amount to be raised from property taxes, Budget Committee member Bill Pearse Jr. moved that the item for general administration be reduced by $1,500, from $42,400 to $40,900, and the item for public safety be cut by $1,000, from $101,915 to $100,915. Pearse explained that $1,500 had been included under general administration for filing cabinets, and there was already money for that purpose in the capital reserve line item, therefore the amount in general administration was not needed. Later John Jensen, also on the Budget Committee, explained that, in view of the fact that the selectmen and school board members were forgoing their stipends for the year, the committee felt that public safety stipends should be held at their previous level, eliminating the $1,000 raise for Keller that had been previously approved by both the selectmen and the Budget Committee.

The article passed as amended, raising a total of $376,115 from taxes.

All the other articles passed as well, with only one other amendment.

Earlier in the meeting, which was moderated by Tom Ford, voters had considered an article to set the due dates for property taxes and the interest rate on late tax payments. Selectman-elect David Bosken said the proposed interest rate of 7 percent was unreasonably high and wondered if a lower rate could be set. Town Administrator Jon Duke (who does not live in Hope, but had been allowed to speak by a vote of the meeting) replied that he agreed the rate was high, but it was the minimum set by the state.

Once the money-related articles had been approved, Ford asked voters if they would like to move for blanket approval of the rest of the articles with a single vote. Discussion of each article would still be allowed, he said.

The meeting approved a motion for a blanket vote, and discussion of the remaining articles proceeded.

Under an article giving the Board of Selectmen the authority to accept or reject donations of personal property and gifts of money to various town accounts, Brian Powers Sr. proposed to amend the article to prevent the Board from accepting donations or gifts that would cause future encumbrances on the municipal budget.

During a break in the meeting, Town Clerk Rosie Bowman swore in newly-elected office holders who were present. They included incumbent Selectman Wendy Pelletier, who was re-elected, and Selectman David Bosken; Budget Committee members Jean Ettlinger and Joe Berry; and School Committee member Alina Smith.

In closing, Ford invited residents to give themselves a round of applause for turning out. He said the much larger town of Camden had drawn only 40 people to its town meeting, while he counted 58 voters at Hope's meeting.

Comments (5)
Posted by: LEE C MACFARLAND | Jun 18, 2014 11:49

I totally agree with Scott Nelson.  The townspeople do not have their priorities right.  Do they NOT realize what they have in Fire Chief Keller???


Posted by: Janice & Eric Campbell | Jun 18, 2014 10:12

"Previously approved by the Selectman and Budget Committee"...then why on the floor of the Town Meeting, does this happen time and time again?  A motion to amend is put forth before a motion to accept as approved is even voiced. What a gross dis-service to the citizens of Hope as well as the Fire Department. I was amazed, however, how few people were at the Town Meeting this year.  Come on, folks...your opinion DOES matter...and YOU can stop this madness.  Keep your chin up, Clarence!  What you do and give for the Town of Hope IS APPRECIATED!!

Posted by: KERYN LAITE | Jun 18, 2014 07:21

Seems like the increase that was on the table is such a very small price to pay for all that this chief does....oh and the peace of mind thing is kinda nice to. But I guess things like that just don't matter to some. I think the majority vote needs to take a hard look at what they just did. JMO

Posted by: Scott A Nelson | Jun 17, 2014 19:53

To put the selectman and school board in the same category as a Fire Chief is ridiculous. They have nowhere near the responsibility and work load of a Fire Chief or even an volunteer firefighter. Are they on call 24/7 365 ?? Do they put there lives in danger to save others ?? Do they have to continually train to stay up on the latest procedures ?? Do they have to respond at anytime day or night ?? Are they responsible for the lives of others ?? The answer to all of these questions is NO !!!!! They meet maybe once or twice a month on a scheduled time at their convenience. So, to continually throw out that they are sacrificing by giving up their stipends is hilarious. Why are they being paid to begin with?? Is their position considered a professional trained profession ?? I think not. A fire chief is. So certain townspeople of Hope , you do not know how good you have it.  Our chief is not paid anywhere near what most get in this area. And the small increase he has asked for is the least you can do as he is worth way more than what he is asking for.

Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Jun 17, 2014 12:36

Another bitter pill for the Fire Chief.  It's ok he and the other fire fighters only risk their lives for you whenever there is a call for them and they respond.

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