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DSS Board stipend pay debated

JACKSON – Shelia Evans, Director of Northampton’s Department of Social Services, went before the Board of Commissioners here Monday to ask for a stipend increase for DSS Board members. Despite her presentation, she ultimately came away without an answer to her request.

After several minutes of lively discussion on the matter, Commissioner Charles Tyner motioned to table the request until they had more information. The motion passed without opposition.

Evans’ request was to increase the monthly stipend the DSS Board receives based on the fact they had not received any sort of increase in over 10 years.

The current stipend rate is $30 for the chairman and $25 for other members per meeting.

The proposal would call for a $45 increase for each member, meaning the chairman would receive $75 per monthly meeting and the other board members would get $70.

The decision paper Evans presented contained a note from the county finance officer stating the funds for the increase had been budgeted in the 2018-19 budget.

“I advocate for my board because my board has to learn the federal, state, and county guidelines, and attend the meetings,” Evans explained, noting they have to stay informed about things like regular changes to MOUs (memorandum of understanding) and more.

“I know we have several other boards that have those same requirements,” Commissioner Geneva Faulkner responded. “What are their stipends? I hate to do something for one board and put it as more important than another board.”

“I want everyone to know I’m not in favor of it,” Tyner said as the discussion continued. “I cannot say the DSS Board is more important than the Health Board or any other board that we’ve got.”

Agreeing with Faulkner, he also requested more information about what stipends other county boards receive. He said he didn’t want to treat any board unfairly.

“I’m kind of confused,” he continued, “because I thought citizens were going to volunteer and give their time to the board. This (DSS) board is not to give you a salary.”

“It’s not a salary. It’s a stipend,” noted Commissioner Fannie Greene.

Tyner argued that the two words were essentially the same.

Faulkner interjected by stating if people were to receive over a certain amount of money, they would have “to claim it on [their] taxes.”

Finance Officer Leslie Edwards said she would have to look up the stipend information for various county boards. Because she did not have the information on hand, she would bring it to them at a later date.