The Board of Selectmen and Board of Education may formulate their own budgets this year, without the benefit of budget guidance from the Board of Finance.

At the recent tri-board meeting of the three boards, finance board chairman Jeff Rutishauser said his board decided not to issue a figure for budget guidance this year because last year it was interpreted as a “safe harbor.”

Last year, at the outset of the budget season, the finance board issued a budget guidance for the town and education budget requests — recommending a 2-percent maximum increase for the town and 1.6-percent maximum increase for the schools.

The town proposed a 0.92-percent increase and the schools proposed a 1.35-percent increase, both under the recommended budget guidance.

But, in the end, the finance board voted to keep both budgets flat, at a zero increase, after receiving the results of a recent property revaluation, which lowered Wilton’s grand list by 2.08 percent.

Members of the public and some finance board members objected because both boards kept within the budget guidance.

Rutishauser said at that time, the news about the decline in the grand list was a game changer. He said the “budget guidance” model was designed in an era of a “non-revaluation” year and had been used a number of times previously with success.

He also expressed concern last year that the budget guidance had become a “safe harbor” for the selectmen and school board. “If they come in above the guidance they believe they will get rough treatment from the finance board, but if they come in under the guidance, they believe it’s smooth sailing. That may be a wrong way of reading it. It was designed to be a plus or minus target,” he said at the time.

pgay@wiltonbulletin.com