Ridgefield cannot afford the proposed teacher contract and the Board of Selectmen can fix that.
In these awful economic times, the proposed 8.9% raises are without justification. Connecticut General Statues allow the Board of Selectman to reject the contract and send it to binding arbitration. If they do not have the will to do that, they can let the voters decide by sending it to referendum or a town meeting.
For reasons not clear, our officials fear arbitration when they should embrace it. Through the years, they have done everything possible to avoid it, in the process giving away the store. Our last police contract had raises of 10% over three years. Old Saybrook went to arbitration last year with its police and came away with 5% for three years.
Other towns have seen the light. Last year, Wilton went to arbitration with its teachers and came away with a contract at 6.1% over three years. The first year salaries were frozen.
A month ago, Norwalk got an award with no salary increase the first year. Last week, Newtown received an arbitration award with its teachers at 6.7% over three years. If we only did as well as Newtown, we would save $853,000 per year at the end of the three year contract, those savings continuing year after year — forever, far exceeding the savings from benefit reductions.
Wilton did great because their Board of Finance gave a first-rate presentation at the arbitration hearing. Dave Ulmer will do an even better job for Ridgefield. But he will not get the chance unless the Board of Selectman gives him the opportunity to put the taxpayers and the children before the teacher’s union.
Contact the Board of Selectmen and tell them to give you the opportunity to reject this giveaway.
Read about this and other issues at www.CommentaryonRidgefield.org.