Most serve without pay

Area school board members are not paid for their services.

Those who serve on a number of county non-profit boards, some with organizations responsible for more than $50 million, are not compensated.

So explain again why the Dunkirk Housing Authority Board needs stipends for attending each meeting? “It is a difficult board to be on, it has a lot of responsibilities … I think in this case with all the benefits we get back from the housing authority I think it warrants for them to keep their stipend,” councilman Adelino Gonzalez said last week. “Yes, we would like them to pay their own stipend, but according to legal issues they can’t do that. So that’s why I’m voting yes.”

Gonzalez is not incorrect, but a number of board members – some of those you know well in this community – do not get paid while serving on those non-profit boards that have “a lot of responsibilities.”

Dunkirk Housing Authority, however, exposes a flaw of government. For some reason – years ago when municipal budgets were nowhere near the spending levels they are today – people were compensated with a stipend as a way of saying thank you. But today – no matter how small – we just cannot afford that $2,740 in stipends when problems and services are being ignored due to budget cuts.

Normally, when you are a member of an organization that gives back to the community, you often want that organization to flourish through fund-raising and special events. Not by making money off of it.

Government, however, does not work that way. It wants as much of your money so it can continue to compensate individuals for doing “volunteer work.”

The Dunkirk Housing Authority could have taken the lead for the other city board members who receive stipends. They could have set the example.

But no. Instead, the stipends were reinstated.

It’s small money, but it is also a principle. Those who serve on boards normally do so for the honor and enjoyment. Not the pay.