Wilton board mulls $600K in cuts, including first selectwoman’s salary
WILTON — The Board of Selectmen is pondering ways to reduce its FY 2021 budget request, including a 20-percent cut to the first selectwoman’s salary.
In light of economic developments due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Board of Finance has asked the selectmen to provide four budget scenarios: flat to the FY2020 budget, 2 percent less, 5 percent less, and 10 percent less than the FY2020 budget.
Before the pandemic struck, the selectmen had proposed a $33.9 million budget for FY2021, an increase of 1.22 percent over this year’s budget of $32.5 million. That proposal is now out the window.
While the selectmen made no final decisions at a meeting on Monday night, they did discuss a list of budget adjustments proposed by First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice. They included more than $685,000 in cuts but those would be offset by more than $500,000 in possible additional expenses. There would also be additional savings for capital projects not going forward and possible revenue credits.
The following proposed budget reductions are a result of savings from closures and other economic factors:
$57,225 for the closure of Merwin Meadows in the summer of 2020.
$30,000 reduction in the first selectwoman’s salary. Vanderslice proposed a 20-percent reduction to her salary in light of unemployment numbers. “The impact is large for those who have lost jobs or had their salaries reduced,” she said.
$29,000 not hiring people to water flower baskets, and reduction in the economic development budget.
$38,879 due to delays in hiring vacancies.
$2,700 for legal notice publications, which are being posted online for free during the pandemic.
$7,200 from employee training, which can now be done online.
$14,600 eliminating a part-time employee for Schenck’s Island, and equipment.
$3,000 from education assistance due to canceled plans.
$6,400 Planning and Zoning overtime and dues.
$144,500 Highway Department savings due to mild winter and guard rails good through FY 2021.
$26,175 for Senior Center partial year closure.
$9,000 police tuition, and road striping work delay.
$4,000 for outside firefighter training.
$262,719 Transfer Station savings due to shortened hours.
$50,000 operating capital for purchasing delays.
In addition, capital projects such as the police department/town hall building project, and replacement of the stadium track at Wilton High School will be put on hold. Refurbishment of a ladder truck for the fire department can go on the November ballot.
The selectmen are also considering cuts to the $2,854,156 grant for Wilton Library and $65,334 grant for Trackside Teen Center.
The selectmen reviewed several new budget expenses:
$160,169 for additional costs related to COVID-19.
$110,000 for 1.5 additional Health Department employees during the pandemic.
$253,428 for medical benefit costs, if the town remains in its self-insured plan.
$35,000 for people to monitor the use of town fields and tennis courts when they are re-opened.
$15,000 additional town counsel fees for handling COVID-related issues.
Additional funds (to be determined) will be needed for the registrars of voters to hold the presidential preference primary on Aug. 11 and the presidential election in November.
The board will make final budget decisions at a special meeting on Monday, May 11. The Board of Finance is meeting Tuesday, May 12, to review the town and education budgets and set a mill rate.
Editor’s Note this story was updated to clarify the reduction in the economic devlopment budget.