Editorial: Support the budget

The budget has been presented, and while the details are still being hammered out over at the Board of Education, the bottom lines are all in. If approved, there will be a tax increase of just over 2% for the next fiscal year. According to the current mill rate, the owner of a home assessed at $800,000 pays yearly taxes of $20,720. That would increase to $20,944 under the new mill rate.

This is a reasonable increase and should be supported. No doubt, many would like to see a decrease, but that is not likely to happen without a significant decrease in school enrollment.

If voter turnout is light, as it has been for the last several years, the budget will automatically pass. That is not true for the capital projects to be bonded. They must pass by a majority and risk being voted down even with a low turnout. They are all worthy of passage.

The smallest of these is the continuing renovation of the farmhouse at Ambler Farm. The cost of $250,000 is being equally borne by the Friends of Ambler Farm. Ambler Farm is already a gem, and when completed, this house will further enhance the value — both educational and aesthetic — to the town.

The fire department is seeking $595,000 to replace Engine 3. Although this request is coming a year early due to the engine’s deteriorating condition, putting it off another year is not going to do the town any good. Although they are rare, structure fires do happen, and it is vital our emergency equipment be kept in good shape.

The Comstock Community Center has suffered deferred maintenance for years and it is simply time to ante up the money to fix this building. As anyone who owns a home knows, you can ignore physical problems as long as you like. They are not going away. The $9.9 million will not only fix existing problems, it will enhance usage of the building.

At nearly $3.5 million, the road restoration program is another big investment, but a vital one. Decrepit roads are a blot on a town and misery to drive on. After years of cutting maintenance money, Wilton’s roads were becoming terribly downtrodden. With 127 miles of roads, replacing only two to three miles a year is like making the minimum payment on a big credit card bill. It is impossible to catch up. Denying this money will not save anyone anything.

The last item is $500,000 for school security improvements. It is difficult to endorse a resolution when those asking for it won’t say publicly what it is being used for. But in light of tragic events that seem to happen more and more often and closer and closer to home, denying such improvements to our schools would be irresponsible.