Archive for December 3rd, 2010

December 3rd, 2010

Teachers To Vote on New Contract

by LonSeidman

What’s the largest portion of the Town’s Budget? What fiscal item do some town officials say they have no control over year after year? And what budget item will most significantly affect your tax rate in the next three years?

If you said the teacher’s union contract, you’re correct.

Little information is known at press time, but a teacher’s union contract has been under negotiations since late summer. Word has reached us that a vote is being held today by teachers on whether or not to approve a three year contract.

Past year’s contracts included 3.5% annual increase for teachers’ salaries. Medical contributions by teachers had also been increased in past years. Tactics often used by teachers’ unions are to compare their salary to the state average salary and show that their union is below that average. As they gain increases in their contract, the state average thus rises. Then the next union in another town with negotiations can argue that they are below the average, because the average constantly shifts upward.

School districts in contrast often point to the ability of their taxpayers to pay any increase. The current economic climate can be further used to show that an increase would not be in a town’s best interest. Waterbuy recently did that and rejected subsequent requests for raises, although the Board of Education there did entertain the motion after the contract was verified.

We don’t know much about the current proposed contract, but if negotiations result in similar pay increases of the past, Wolcott’s 200 or so teachers’ salaries might be compounded in annual raises. This could result in millions of dollars of added expenses to Wolcott taxpayers’ over the life of the contract. We hope that perhaps other non-salary incentives could be offered instead, if needed. Teachers consistently are saddled with costs for supplies and their classrooms. Why don’t schools reumburse them for these or supply a budget for such expenses?

Offers like this that might sweeten a deal could go a much longer way than added salary. But again, we don’t know the details at this point and caution against anyone making assumptions.

If a contract is approved by teachers, we expect it would then need to be ratified by the Board of Education. Residents should contact BOE members to give them their input on the matter. Earlier this year the Town Council rejected a school administrators’ contract which then went to arbitration. The administrators won the arbitration.

December 3rd, 2010

Bridgeport Continues Count One Month Later

by LonSeidman

Exactly one month later, Connecticut’s election results for Governor could still change.

Even after three vote counts -each with different tallies, give and take between the Foley and Malloy campaigns on who was right, and then the ultimate concession speech by Tom Foley, the debacle in Connecticut’s largest city still continues. An extensive recount being conducted by the Connecticut Citizen Audit coalition at the request of the Connecticut Post newspaper is halfway completed. A bipartisan commission was also appointed by Mayor Bill Finch to investigate what went wrong and what should be corrected. They have quite the job to tackle with a one month deadline in the midst of angry residents, clear facts, and cloudy misinformation. Some of the uproar begun at a hearing held on Nov. 22nd, where one City Councilor exclaimed that “I wouldn’t have stood in line that long to vote for MYSELF!” referring to the four hours some residents waited for ballots.

Enter a citizens volunteer group of vote counters. The

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