LONDONDERRY — While most articles were approved during Town Meeting on Saturday, the collective bargaining agreement between the town and the Londonderry Administrative Employees Association lost by four votes during a secret ballot.
Just 293 residents attended for all or part of the five-hour meeting at Londonderry High School. Not everyone was present to vote on every article.
Tim Thompson, town planner and president of the association, said before the vote that the association was coming into its third year without a contract and that a "no" vote on the contract would mean that cost-of-living adjustments would not happen, vacation accruals would not be adjusted and sick time carryover cash-out would not be adjusted.
He added that most members of the association would continue to pay 15 percent of the costs of health insurance, instead of the proposed 20 percent in the agreement.
The contract agreement would have increased the tax rate by $0.05 for fiscal 2009, which was more than some residents cared to spend.
Still, Budget Committee member Mike Brown said the agreement would have been a "status quo" contract.
"At a time when there are residents struggling to get by on a fixed income and struggling to keep their homes from being foreclosed, is it really fair to say 'yes' (to this contract)?" Brown asked voters.
The secret ballot added up to 123 "yes" votes and 127 "no" votes.
An article that was approved by voters will authorize the Town Council to call a special meeting to address the administrative employees association bargaining agreement.
The town operating budget of $24.9 million passed without discussion.
An article for work on the intersection at Mammoth, Bartley Hill, Stonehenge and Litchfield roads was passed even though residents were recently told that the work would cost $1 million more than originally planned, with the state paying two-thirds of the cost. Voters approved $698,000, with the state funding $1,396,000.
Article 17 to use $1.8 million from the Conservation Commission fund to build the North-West Fire Station failed. The citizens petition, headed up by Sean O'Keefe and Tom Freda, was declared illegal by Superior Court, and it has been appealed to the Supreme Court.
After voters rejected the measure, Councilor Marty Bove asked the plaintiffs to withdraw the appeal to save the town $10,000 in legal costs.