Wilton finance board will not give budget guidance this year

Board of Finance members, from left, including Chairman Jeff Rutishauser, Vice Chairman Michael Kaelin, and Stewart Koenigsberg, listen to comments on the budget from school officials in February 2020.

Board of Finance members, from left, including Chairman Jeff Rutishauser, Vice Chairman Michael Kaelin, and Stewart Koenigsberg, listen to comments on the budget from school officials in February 2020.

Jarret Liotta / Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — The Board of Finance unanimously agreed Tuesday to withhold official budget guidance for town boards leading up to the next fiscal year.

Budget guidance is set when the Board of Finance suggests a total number that any individual town board should strive to hit when putting together their budget for any given fiscal year.

The decision came after finance board chairman Jeffrey Rutishauser begged the question to his fellow board members, as there has not been no hard precedent.

Rutishauser explained that, some years, the board had set budget guidance for other town entity’s to meet when fiscal year drafting rolls around. Other years, the Board of Finance had not set budget guidance and left it to individual boards. Last year, the chairman said, COVID-19 “kind of scrambled” the process.

“I prefer that the Board of Finance provide no guidance,” finance board member Chris Stroup said. “I prefer the two boards put together recommendations based on what they believe is best for the town.”

Board member Stewart Koenigsberg said that he doesn’t believe anyone would be interested in “setting targets without hearing a dialogue from a constituent party.”

“I think we are pretty much unanimous in not setting guidance and more interested in hearing from the consituents as to what they feel,” Koenigsberg said.

Koenigsberg was interested in the board gaining more insight on the amount of new building developments set to arise in Wilton, expected revenue boosts and rough estimates on “what additional student-age population may, broad range, come into town and what that’s going to cost us.”

He said many of the housing developments that have been discussed, he believes, will bring positive effects, including on local business. Rutishauser explained many of the developments discussed at the Planning and Zoning level are still “on the drawing board.”

The chairman said that, in two years, the revaluation in single-family homes will play a factor.

“That will be a big jump, probably,” Rutishauser said.

On the Board of Education side, Koenigsberg said the finance board should ask for the district to compile long-term goals, statistics and comparisons to neighboring towns.

“I’m more interested in that than setting guidance,” he said.

Rutishauser suggested some of these questions be added on Board of Education budget requests to be addressed as a part of the “qualatative discussion.”