Some new, some returning leaders to helm Wilton boards
Following the November election, some town boards and commissions have elected new chairs, while others are keeping the same ones in place.
The Board of Education’s previous chair, Christine Finkelstein (R), had to step down from the board due to term limits.
The new chair is Deborah Low (D), who has served two years so far on the school board. “I am excited about my new role,” she told the Bulletin.
Low has worked in schools for 20 years. She was dean and principal at Wilton High School, as well as Wilton’s assistant superintendent. In 2014, she retired as superintendent of Ridgefield schools after seven years of service.
Low has a number of goals for the upcoming year.
Her first goal, she said, is to work with the school board and superintendent to ensure the school budget for 1920-21 “supports student needs and district initiatives and is fiscally responsible to the taxpayers and the town.”
She also wants to collaborate with the board and superintendent on strategic planning for the district. Specifically, by participating in the superintendent’s long range planning process, developing a shared faculty, student, parent, and community “portrait” of a successful Wilton public school graduate.
Low also intends to review and support program proposals that she says “both engage students to develop their full potential and prepare them for the future.”
Ensuring the implementation of plans for facility needs and tools for digital access, is also another of Low’s goals.
Districtwide, Low said she wants to work with the school board and superintendent to monitor and communicate district performance using a variety of student, program, and district assessment measures.
She said also wants to work with her board to continue and improve engagement and communication with parents, faculty, students, and the community.
Board of Finance
One of the town’s returning chairs is Jeff Rutishauser (R) on the Board of Finance.
Rutishauser has been on the finance board for a total of nine years. He was appointed to the board in April 2001 to fill a seat left vacant by Curt Welling who resigned midterm. He ran for the final two years of Welling’s term in November 2001. In November 2003, he chose not to run for re-election because he joined a New York City investment firm and couldn’t make the meetings in Wilton anymore.
He was then appointed to the finance board in March 2013 to fill a seat vacated by State Rep. Gail Lavielle who resigned from the board during her second term in the state legislature after assuming greater legislative responsibilities. Rutishauser ran for a full four-year seat in November 2013, and again in November 2017. He will “term out” in November 2021 and will be unable to run again.
He has been elected the board’s chair for the past four years.
Rutishauser has a number of goals for the upcoming year, he said, not for himself individually or personally, but for the entire board collectively.
One of his goals is to continue to have oversight on town operating budgets to recommend to the Annual Town Meeting that deliver municipal services at the most efficient level possible, resulting in predictable and stable/moderate mill rate increases.
Another important issue, he said, is maintaining oversight of additions to bonded debt (e.g., police station and town center projects) so as not to have excessive debt service in the future.
He also wants to maintain conservative financial positions in order to retain Wilton’s Aaa (highest) rating from Moody’s for the town’s bonded debt.
Rutishauser also noted the importance of participating in Wilton’s two major pension fund boards for its employees (Retirement fund and OPEB), keeping the funded percentage above 95%.
In other boards, Commissioner Rick Tomasetti is the new chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission. He succeeds Scott Lawrence who is no longer on the commission.
Elizabeth Craig was elected for another term as chair of the Inland-Wetlands Commission.
The Zoning Board of Appeals has yet to elect its new chair.
Editor’s Note: This story was corrected to clarify that State Rep. Gail Lavielle resigned from the finance board during her second term in the state legislature, not her first as originally reported.