From Town Hall: Striking the balance
We are 14 weeks into the new fiscal year and still facing uncertainty regarding the State’s fiscal crisis and its impact on Wilton. Unfortunately, there have been few signs of a possible resolution.
Nevertheless, Town government is working hard to ensure that Wilton is in a strong position to absorb the fallout from the crisis in Hartford. We are investigating every opportunity for cost savings. We have developed tools to actively market our Town. We are meeting with developers and encouraging appropriate investment. And we maintain committed to improving Town services and the quality of life in Wilton.
Last fiscal year, the Town’s operating expenses came in more than $400,000 under budget — a budget that was already lower than the prior year’s. This fiscal year, we have already identified more than $200,000 in savings as we take steps to improve the Town government’s internal efficiency. We have filled just two of the three vacancies in the police department. Town CFO Anne Kelly-Lenz recently assumed the additional responsibilities of her retired Board of Education counterpart. We expect this will proceed smoothly, just as when the Town Facilities Director Chris Burney assumed his BOE counterpart’s responsibilities. Shared management will create opportunities and even greater savings for the schools and the Town. It also demonstrates Wilton’s willingness to embrace new ideas and work together to improve efficiency. Our current fiscal climate forces us to have hard conversations about what we value. We continue to be flexible and open to creative solutions.
Thanks to the efforts of the Economic Development Commission, we now have a suite of tools at our disposal to market our Town to potential new residents and businesses. In addition to the recently released videos, we have added an interactive marketing material to allow readers to explore all of Wilton’s great offerings with ease. Construction is moving along on the new medical building and will soon begin for the new assisted-living facility. Both will translate into strong growth for the October 2018 grand list, which will have a favorable impact on property taxes moving forward. We hope to continue this momentum with future, appropriate development projects.
We are also making strides towards improving the Town’s infrastructure. The accelerated road-paving schedule increases the attractiveness and value of Wilton. This calendar year, we have made significant progress, including the paving of frequently travelled Drum Hill, Lovers Lane and Branch Brook. We are also working to ensure that the additional resources dedicated to paving will not detract from other Town services. Furthermore, we are responding to the public’s desire to have more government services online. Later this month, we will launch a mobile and online issues-reporting system to facilitate better communication with residents and respond to your needs more efficiently.
We continue to strike the balance between controlling costs and maintaining quality services, and between growing the grand list and maintaining our small-town quality of life. That balance is even more difficult as we face the financial challenges of the State. Wilton remains a great place to live and work. We will continue to work hard and be creative to keep it that way.