The Dartmouth Select Board has approved a pay raise for the town administrator – a $25,000 raise with more increases to come. It was a split vote.

Getting an instant $25,000 raise to the base salary is usually reserved for the private sector in competitive fields like finance, technology, and medicine. Municipal employees don't normally see a $25,000 increase in a single day. Three of the five select board members decided Shawn MacInnes, the town administrator for the last two years, was worth the money and they were afraid to lose him.

Dartmouth nearly lost him earlier this year. Maybe there was no alternative to keeping him than giving him a pay raise that would obviously shock the average taxpayer. The iron law of supply and demand applies to labor as well as capital.

Last year, MacInnes applied to take a similar job in the Cape Cod town of Wellfleet and he was one of the top two finalists. Nobody can blame the man for wanting to work on Cape Cod; he started his career as a government employee in Yarmouth and he lives in Sandwich now.

Select Board members Shawn McDonald, Stanley Mickelson, and David Tatelbaum all voted in favor of renewing the town administrator's contract with the additional pay while John Haran and Frank Gracie III voted against it.

During the publicly-broadcast meeting, Haran pointed out that the town has been asking union employees to understand the financial situation and to accept smaller increases in pay and that granting the "captain" such an enormous base pay increase is not consistent. The police, fire, EMS, teachers, and town hall employees are going to take note of this and use it correctly at contract time.

Dartmouth isn't immune from the financial impacts of COVID-19 and revenue is down. The economy of Dartmouth is heavily dependent on retail businesses and the University of Massachusetts – both hit hard, maybe forever, by the virus.

The political season has started in Dartmouth.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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