Wilton selectmen approve 1.22% budget increase
WILTON — After mulling possible budget increases ranging from 0.47 to 2.2 percent, the Board of Selectmen has agreed on a $33,911,800 operating budget for fiscal year 2021, a 1.22-percent increase.
To get to that number, the board reviewed employee healthcare costs and reduced its contribution to the Trackside Teen Center.
Since February, the board considered a possible $600,000 in savings moving from the town’s self-insured medical plan with Anthem to the State Partnership Plan.
But while that move is being discussed with town collective bargaining units, no final decision has been made.
“Negotiations and discussions with the employees are still ongoing about moving to the state health plan,” Vanderslice said. “At this point, we don’t know if we are going to be moving over.”
In light of that, she said, “I don’t think we are in a position to keep that $600,000 in savings still in the budget, I think that is too much of a risk.”
She proposed keeping $300,000, half the proposed savings, in the budget and adding $300,000 back into medical benefits.
The board agreed to those changes.
Vanderslice then proposed cutting $33,000 from the town’s annual grant to the Trackside Teen Center.
She said $33,000 is basically one-third of the grant, and is in sync with a long-term plan set forth by Trackside to achieve financial independence.
Trackside Teen Center is a privately funded nonprofit organization operating at 15 Station Road. It serves Wilton middle school and high school students and also houses the Genesis Program Alternative School.
Selectwoman Deb McFadden said she understood giving Trackside a reduction, just not as much as Vanderslice proposed.
Vanderslice said the onus is on Trackside to make the teen center sustainable. With the reduction, it’s still a $67,000-plus grant, Vanderslice said.
McFadden called Trackside “an asset” and said she would like the board to have ongoing dialogues with its directors in order to help them become more successful. The board agreed.
The Board of Finance will begin it budget review on Tuesday, March 10.