Emergency meeting for Milford teachers’ pact; new 3-year contract would add 42 cents to tax rate

MILFORD – The town’s budget committee blasted the school board Monday night, saying voters will be confused about the planned special meeting on a teachers’ contract.

Earlier this month, a superior court judge approved a petition from the board and the teachers’ association to hold a special emergency meeting on a fact
finder report and recommendation.

This special Deliberative Session is scheduled for Aug. 4 and the vote is scheduled to coincide with the state primary election Sept. 9.

At a public hearing June 16, Richard Wood, of the school advisory budget committee, said there is no emergency that warrants a special meeting and said the board should ask the court to reverse its decision.

Normally, a vote on a fact finder’s recommendation would take place at a regular district annual meeting, but the Milford Teachers Association petitioned for an emergency meeting and the petition was accepted by the court.

Selectman Gary Daniels, a state representative, also criticized the board saying in all his years on the House Labor Committee he never ran into a situation in which a binding vote and a non-binding vote are combined.

The board created a situation where its ability to continue to negotiate was eliminated, he said, and Milford voters became the legislative body and the negotiator.

“The road we are heading down is a very dangerous one,” he said.

A factfinder was called in after the negotiations between the School Board and teachers reached an impasse and mediation didn’t work.

The only remaining point of contention is the board’s proposal to add a third tier for health insurance that would cover new employees at 80
percent instead of 85 percent.

The three-year contract would add $544,952 to the budget next year in wages and benefits, and as a consequence add 42 cents to the tax rate.

Because there is only one tax bill payment after the September vote, the entire added tax payment would be felt on the December tax bills, Wood said.

“I think the fact-finder was far too generous,” he said.

Board Chairman Paul Dargie said the school board would still be able to spend less money than is authorized in the warrant for the special meeting and he read from a document from school district attorney William Drescher stating that.

But board members Bob Willette and Len Mannino, who had voted against the special meeting, agreed with the critics.

“If this vote goes through,” Willette said, “I will vote for it. I would feel it is the will of the people.”

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.