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Manchester's Charter Commission proposes raises for city board members

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 10. 2013 10:37PM

MANCHESTER - The Charter Commission has proposed paying aldermen and school board members $9,000 and $7,000, respectively, while eliminating their health care coverage.

The commission voted 6-2 to back the change at its meeting Wednesday, following an outcry over an earlier proposal to increase the officials' annual stipends to $15,000.

The issue of a pay raise for the officials was among the proposals that residents most strongly criticized at a public hearing last month.

The commissioners arrived at the $9,000 and $7,000 figures after failing to reach agreement on higher stipends.

Commissioner Lou D'Alessandro was among those willing to back a stipend as high as $15,000. "If we're going to withdraw their benefits, we have to be reasonable in the compensation," he said.

The two "no" votes against the proposal, which will ultimately be placed on the November ballot, came from Commissioners Will Infantine and Rich Girard. "I don't know what parties you're running in, but people are aghast at what we did for the mayor's salary, and the same could be said for what we're doing here," Infantine said.

The commission has backed increasing the mayor's pay to $108,000, a 59 percent increase.

Girard said he didn't think the aldermen or school board members necessarily deserved an increase in their stipend because their health care benefits were being "taken away."

"These are benefits the aldermen decided to give themselves, and I think they did so in a rather unfair way, when you consider how they treat other part-time employees in the city, because they're not eligible," he said.

Commissioner Mike Lopez argued that a higher stipend was important to attract candidates for office today.

"Of course this is New Hampshire, we understand that there's the volunteer aspect of it, but people are not getting involved because of the way the process works," he said.

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