The TASC List: Summery summary

Here just past mid-summer 2014, TASC offers a quick look at some of its most recent suggestions and recommendations for a stronger and more resilient Wilton. These were published over the past two plus years, and we are encouraged there has been progress on many fronts, and in continuing dialogues.

If any reader desires more detail or further explanation on a specific item or area, please email the author as indicated on the note below, and we will respond directly to you. This column has appeared on a monthly basis since the middle of 2011.

1) An independent internal auditor responsible for standards, protocols, data integrity, process evaluation, and adherence to best policies and practices has been proposed and presented in several past forums. Current Board of Finance/Board of Education discussions receiving close attention today represent the need for a precise implementation of this concept. This position would sweep across all town operations in search of improved methods and procedures, more clarity and better reporting in a variety of activities, well beyond financial transactions, and aimed at transparency and accountability throughout.

2) Increased discipline in everything related to cost effectiveness. For example, submissions for all major plans and projects must be packaged in standard business case formats to allow for cost-benefit comparisons and consideration of options and alternatives. A significant project undertaking advanced in 2012 was overturned for lack of a substantial statement of needs and requirements. More red flags are being raised by the community as increased awareness of tax implications for local citizens becomes more apparent. The Board of Finance includes members with first-rate business acumen and watchdog instincts. Their guidance on budget and mill rate maximums has been more than instructive.

3) Quantifiable and measurable performance plan objectives for the district school superintendent were promoted to benefit the community of students (the end users of the education products) and taxpayers alike. More student-centered attention and less growth in staff, administration, and overhead will benefit the budget process and its overall acceptance, and will release the resources and funds to satisfy legitimate new requirements, productive programs, and the quality result sought by all parties without adding to the property tax burden. We expect the new superintendent will respond positively to these next steps in the management sphere, as well as improved teacher evaluation methods and the pursuit of written adherence to principled practices by all participants in the education delivery process.

4) TASC has been pleased to recognize some of the excellent community attributes of Wilton, including the remarkable strength of its military veterans; the reach and utility of its citizen support services; the splendid example set by contributions of the high school golf team; a football coach who can build, teach, and inspire; a balance sheet of the best positive qualities of the town itself (venues, resources, the fortunate circumstances of location itself); and the rationale for a positive turnaround in Connecticut (via recovery signs and signals) that will benefit our town and its future.

5) We have also pointed out, while endorsing measurements of effectiveness, the dangers in measuring the wrong things; a systematic method for strategic sizing of organization structures; the Bayesian approach to better projections; our laughable annual budget dance that expends valuable resources; lessons to be learned from remarkable accomplishments in the state of Indiana (reference Keeping the Republic); how we can all become whatever we resolve to be; the need for better discourse between parties; and the words that matter most.

In summary, TASC stands for effecting change (but only when it is necessary to change) through new paths to objectivity, cost control, disciplined reporting, transparency, accountability, auditability, models of behavior and leadership, and the fundamental New England emphasis on honest and courageous speech. These components of change and progress, wrapped in ethical behavior and clear communication, will propel Wilton to new levels of attainment in a future worth working toward.

TASC stands for Toward A Stronger Community. Information: