Editorial: Yes on the budget

Disturbing news emerged last week regarding the sexual assault lawsuit lodged against the town and Board of Education, but that is not a reason to reject the budget that will be voted on next week.
As is mentioned in many places in today’s Bulletin, the Annual Town Meeting is Tuesday, May 2, beginning at 7:30 p.m., in the Clune Center on the Wilton High School campus, 395 Danbury Road. Voting will begin in the lobby after the meeting. For those who cannot make the meeting, voting resumes Saturday, May 6, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Board of Education has presented a budget with no increase over last year. There is serious work to be done in our schools and the financial means to do it must be provided.
There have been legitimate concerns raised about some directions being taken — particularly teacher coaching and Universal Design for Learning — and these are areas where further discussion may be merited. But they are not a reason to reject the budget outright.
The town budget does reflect a significant increase, but town operations have never been lavish. Costs go up and health benefits are a very real and perplexing problem nationwide.
The capital bonding items primarily reflect required maintenance. Roofs, elevators and roads all need repairs. Tennis courts are a town amenity that need to be kept in good shape. A decrepit court is just a liability. At 43 years old, the police station sorely needs attention. Those who wish to see for themselves may do so at an open house Saturday morning from 9 to 11. The police protect us all day every day. The community owes them a decent place to work.
Finally, the last two questions do not concern money. It is in the town’s best interest to discontinue Old Two Rod Highway and to allow restaurants to serve alcohol at the times allowed by state statute.
Why is it important to attend the Annual Town Meeting? This is democracy at its core. This is one of the prime opportunities for citizens to speak their minds about how their town is being governed. It also affords people one last opportunity to impact the budget. Motions can be made from the floor to reduce line items. If that happens, a vote is taken of those in attendance. If a motion passes, a change is made.
Last year two motions were made from the floor to cut both the town and school budgets. Both were rejected. In these instances, people not at the meeting don’t have a voice.
If fewer than 15% of Wilton’s electors vote on the budget, it will pass automatically. The budget questions pass or fail on a straight vote.