With brows dripping and fans whirring on a hot, sticky summer night, Tisbury voters quickly approved two spending articles, each unanimously, totaling $225,000, to fund the police department union’s contract settlement. The special town meeting held Tuesday in the Tisbury School gym wrapped up in 20 minutes.
“It is the hope on our part to fund a contract for our police department that is fair to both parties,” selectman Geoghan Coogan said before the vote.
The terms of the collective bargaining agreement are the result of binding arbitration by the Massachusetts Joint Labor Management Committee for Municipal Police and Fire. The town of Tisbury and the Tisbury Police Union agreed that the arbitration award is a fair resolution of negotiations that began in 2007 for a three-year contract that expired yesterday.
The Tisbury selectmen first sought approval for the police department retroactive pay and arbitrated wage increases in a singular article on the April 13 town meeting warrant that required a Proposition 2.5 override for the funding. Although voters approved the warrant article at town meeting, a corresponding ballot question was defeated by 328 votes at the April 29 town elections.
Afterwards town officials took the blame for failing to educate the public and for asking voters to fund the spending article for the contract award through an override, which would raise the tax rate, instead of from available town funds.
The June 29 special town meeting warrant articles included a request for $125,000 to fund the arbitration award for back pay for fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010, to be paid from the town’s unreserved fund balance.
Article two requested an additional $100,000 to fund the compensation increases established by the union contract award for fiscal year 2011, which begins today, from the town’s stabilization fund.
One hundred thirteen voters, about 3.8 percent of the town’s 2,928 registered voters, attended the meeting, according to town clerk Marion Mudge.