From Town Hall: Vote for Wilton's future

The Town of Wilton’s Annual Town Meeting will be held at Middlebrook School’s auditorium on Tuesday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m. Please plan to attend this important meeting, during which the town’s fiscal budget for 2015 will be presented. Bonded capital project requests approved unanimously by the Board of Selectmen will also be presented, which represent vital investments in the future of our community. Voting will follow the meeting and an adjourned vote will be held on Saturday, May 10, from 9 to 6 at the Wilton High School’s Clune Center.

The proposed FY15 budget for the town of Wilton is summarized below:

Proposed FY15 Budget  Variance to FY14

Board of Selectmen

$31,766,767 +2.65%

Board of Education

$78,401,125 +2.97%

Given other calculations relating to the grand list, debt service and the town’s fund balance, the FY15 budget will require a +2.03% mill rate increase, which is slightly less than the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Consumer Price Index that has averaged +2.1%/year over the past five years and considerably less than many of our surrounding communities.

From the start of the budget process, critical planning objectives have focused on protecting the core services we believe the Wilton community values — supporting our excellent education system, enhancing public safety and security, preserving the town’s infrastructure and maintaining other essential services.

At the May 6 meeting, five important bonded capital investments will be presented for approval by the town. These investments include renovations and improvements to aging community facilities, replacement of a 20-year-old fire engine and investments in security improvements to protect our school children.

The town’s Road Restoration Capital Program is especially important. After two very successful years, 22 miles of roads have been repaved. However, Wilton still has a large percentage of roads in need of repaving and repairs especially after this past year’s severe winter. Deferring maintenance is unwise, and will be more costly as asphalt prices are expected to increase in future years. Because this project is so important to the community, I am personally requesting your support by voting “yes” to continue the town’s Road Restoration Program.

In summary, these are vital investments the Board of Selectmen feels are required at this time and are consistent with our strategic objectives, which follow:

1. Provide dependable public safety, security and emergency capabilities.

2. Improve Wilton school and community facilities.

3. Preserve infrastructure assets — town roads, sewers, communication systems, etc.

4. Maintain town-owned buildings, school facilities and energy initiatives.

To accomplish these goals, it takes vision and it also takes funds! If we do not invest and we defer on capital project requests, the costs will be greater in the future. As citizens of Wilton, we collectively own the assets of the town — buildings, roads, vehicles, etc. They require regular maintenance, replacements and periodic renovations.

It has been said: “You are what you eat.” A corollary to that insight might be “Our community is what we invest in.” If we stop investing in our future and do not support essential capital projects, our facilities and roads will deteriorate, our schools will decline and eventually home values will fall, as Wilton becomes a less attractive community to live in, raise a family or operate a business. Therefore, the Board of Selectmen respectfully requests that voters approve all of the projects as proposed.

In summary, town departments and the major boards, comprised of your neighbors and mine, have spent months thoughtfully developing, analyzing and debating proposed FY15 budget and capital bonding projects. While there remains some concern as to whether reduced operating budgets would be sufficient to provide the essential community services town residents rely upon, eventually consensus was reached! This is a budget worthy of your support.

On behalf of the Board of Selectmen, I urge your approval of the FY15 budget and all of the five proposed capital bonding projects. Please vote on May 6th at the Annual Town Meeting or Saturday, May 10th. Thank you for your support and for voting on these important community matters.