LITCHFIELD — Local teachers will not be receiving pay raises after voters rejected a tentative bargaining agreement Tuesday at the polls.
With a vote of 730 in support and 884 in opposition, the proposed contract between the Litchfield Education Association and the Litchfield School Board was denied.
The agreement would have increased the union contract by about 3.5 percent for the first two years of the agreement, and about 3.2 percent the final year — for a total increase of about $1.1 million; the contract would have run from 2019 to 2022.
Although the contract was unanimously recommended by the school board, the budget committee did not recommend the contract by a vote of 4-4.
The agreement also would have increased longevity stipends and changed the health plan to a consumer-driven healthcare plan.
Cindy Couture, chairman of the budget committee, said earlier that out-of-control healthcare costs have been a struggle for the district for many years.
On Wednesday, several residents expressed their frustration with the town’s vote to deny raises for teachers.
“To our valued educators in Litchfield — thank you for all you do every day to prepare our kids to be successful, and for their future,” John David Son posted online. “I hope (Tuesday’s) vote does not discourage you, and we continue to support our fabulous teachers and educators moving forward.”
David Gingras, president of the Litchfield Education Association, was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.
Previously, Gingras said the agreement would have increased teacher salaries so that they are up to par with other school districts. If it was approved, the new costs associated with the contract would have resulted in an $11 a month increase for the average homeowner in Litchfield, he said.
Brion Hodgkins of Grouse Lane said earlier that while other communities may be paying their teachers more, many of those communities have additional businesses to help offset the taxes.
Despite the lack of support for the teacher contract, the school district’s proposed $22.8 million operating budget was approved, as well as the hiring of a part-time math tutor and the addition of $100,000 to the district’s building maintenance capital reserve fund.
Voters rejected a proposal to hire a part-time enrichment tutor, and also denied a proposal to study the possibility of implementing a tax cap for the school budget. Brian Bourque and Christina Harrison were elected to the school board.
On the town ballot, Kevin Lynch and F. Robert Leary were elected to sit on the Board of Selectmen.
A town operating budget of nearly $6.8 million was approved, as well as a three-year bargaining agreement for local police, a $90,000 land purchase, the adoption of an official town flag, allowing Keno operations in town and continuing with the town administrator position.
Rejected on Tuesday were two separate proposals to elect the town’s fire chief and elect the town’s highway agent instead of appointing the two positions; those requests were made by citizen petitions.
Overall, 1,730 ballots were cast, which represents about 26 percent of Litchfield’s registered voters.