Editorial: Budget time

As the holiday decorations get put away, the sharpened pencils come out.

Budget season has begun.

Meetings have actually begun, with departments presenting their budgets to the Board of Selectmen over the next several weeks.

Two meetings of note coming up include a public information meeting presented by the Board of Finance and a public hearing on the school budget.

The Board of Finance public information meeting will take place Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m. at Wilton Library. As finance Chairman Warren Serenbetz says in his letter on this page, there will be a review of the fiscal year 2014 budget. The board will also discuss what impact the revaluation of residential and commercial properties will have.

It is important to remember the revaluation process is not directly tied to the budget process, but it does affect how much property owners pay in taxes. Revaluation will directly affect the grand list, and the grand list is used in determining the mill rate. As property values go down, the mill rate will most assuredly go up, and that can sometimes be confusing. At the meeting, the board will likely address those issues.

A public hearing on the school superintendent’s recommended budget is on the town calendar for Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Middlebrook School. The Board of Education has been working on the budget in a number of study sessions, the most recent being yesterday afternoon.

With the schools accounting for the lion’s share of the town budget, the public hearing is an important opportunity for those concerned about how their tax dollars are spent.

As the year progresses, there are a few other meetings of which to take note:

•    Monday, Feb. 11, at 7:30 p.m., the Board of Finance and Board of Education will meet for a budget workshop at Wilton High School.

•    Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m., the Board of Education will have a capital project discussion with the Board of Selectmen at town hall.

•    Thursday, Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m., the Board of Selectmen will meet for a budget work session in town hall.

•    Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 7:30 p.m., the Board of Finance and Board of Education will meet for a second budget workshop at Wilton High.

Public hearings on the school and municipal budgets will take place on separate evenings in March. The Board of Finance will set the mill rate in early April, and the Annual Town Meeting is planned for Tuesday, May 7.