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GROTON — Groton state Rep. Robert Hargraves officially joined his Republican peers in the House and voluntarily submitted to a five-day unpaid furlough.

Hargraves made the move this week after ensuring that his participation in the furlough program wouldn’t deal him an unequal and likely unintended long-term penalty.

Hargraves asked House minority leader Bradley Jones’ staffers to investigate and confirm with the Retirement Board that forgoing five days’ pay wouldn’t skew unfavorably his retirement benefit calculations based on a three-year look-back period.

“The board just confirmed it’s based on salary earned, not what is given back in a furlough,” Hargraves said on Thursday.

“Now that it’s not going to affect my retirement, I’m going to happily participate in the furlough,” he said.

Hargraves said he supported the furloughs from the start. “I knew that I had to voluntarily do this but I immediately thought ‘this is going to affect my retirement.'”

Hargraves is in the middle of his final term, having announced this fall that he will be leaving his House seat when his term expires on Jan. 5, 2011.

Lowering his pay for one year, and factoring that difference into the three-year retirement calculation, would have cut his monthly retirement payments following 37 years in elected office. Hargraves’ elected service includes terms as Groton Town Moderator, Groton Selectman, Groton-Nashoba Valley Technical High School Planning Committee, Groton School Committee and the House of Representatives for the 1st Middlesex District since 1995.

“So instead of a five-day furlough like the others, I’d have a monthly furlough for the rest of my life,” said Hargraves.

Hargraves was listed in a Dec. 10 Boston Globe article as being among 16 of the 160 House members who hadn’t signed on for the voluntary furlough. Hargraves was the lone Republican. The furloughs for lawmakers are voluntary, as salaries are safeguarded by a constitutional amendment.

In November, House leaders ordered 540 staff members to take five furlough days, and stated it would be voluntary for lawmakers to follow suit. It was a joint push launched by House Speaker Robert DeLeo and minority leader Bradley Jones. The goal was to save the state $620,000.

The goal now is to realize total savings of $1.2 million via the staffer and lawmaker furloughs.

Hargraves said he spoke with Jones on Thursday.

“He called to thank me. He understood at the outset where I was coming from and asked his office to look into it,” Hargraves said. “It does make me happy that the Republicans are now 100 percent taking the furlough,” said Hargraves.

Of the public listing of holdout names in the Boston Globe, Hargraves said, “I think the Globe did what any media outlet would do. No, I don’t fault the Globe at all. They just reported the information.”

While Hargraves leaves office in early 2011, he said he’s just been reappointed by the governor for a fresh seven-year term as a Justice of the Peace, which he intends to continue with following his departure from the House.

He said that if the furlough would, in fact, affect his retirement, he would have paid the furlough amount in a lump sum, rather than as a reduction in salary.