Wilton selectmen grapple with board and commission vacancies
WILTON — While there are currently 16 vacancies on Wilton boards and commissions, the Board of Selectmen isn’t in a panic about it.
The board is waiting for recommendations from one of the political town committees to fill some of the spots, and two boards may be downsizing, so vacancies on those boards may not need to be filled.
At the selectmen’s meeting on Feb. 18, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice reviewed the list of 16 vacancies:
Two vacancies on the Building Inspectors Board of Appeals.
Three vacancies on the Commission on Social Services.
One vacancy on the Conservation Commission.
One vacancy on the Council of Ethics.
One vacancy on the Economic Development Commission.
Three vacancies on the Energy Commission.
One vacancy on the Fire Commission.
One vacancy on the Historic District and Historic Properties Commission.
Two vacancies on the Water Pollution Control Authority.
One vacancy on the Wilton Water Commission.
The selectmen have sought recommendations from both the Democratic Town Committee (DTC) and Republican Town Committee (RTC) to fill the vacancies.
The DTC submitted a list of nominees, but the RTC hasn’t as of yet. Vanderslice, herself a Republican, acknowledged the RTC is late in responding, and said the selectmen will not make any appointments until they do.
The selectmen have a policy of holding off on appointments until both town committees submit a list of nominees, Vanderslice said.
At various times in the past, she said, the RTC and DTC have both been late making recommendations. When that happens, she said, the selectmen need to wait until they hear from both groups before making appointments. “I would like to see that policy changed, but that’s how it stands at present,” she said.
After the meeting, RTC member Peter Wrampe told the Bulletin, “We are in the process of putting names together. We are working on it.”
He didn’t say when the recommendations would be submitted to the selectmen.
There is not a general appeal for candidates at this time, Vanderslice said, as the selectmen expect to have a number of nominees forthcoming from the town committees.
To relieve the vacancies on two commissions, the number of its members may be reduced, she said.
The Energy Commission has nine members and three vacancies. The commission voted to recommend reducing its membership from nine to seven. If the selectmen approve the reduction at their next meeting, that would leave one vacancy on that board, Vanderslice said.
The situation is similar for the nine-member Commission on Social Services which also has three vacancies. Vanderslice said she has discussed reducing the size of that board from nine to seven with the commission’s chair. If that happens, that would leave one vacancy on that board.
Selectmen take seats
The Water Pollution Control Authority and Wilton Water Commission are having difficulty attracting members, so the selectmen may do double duty to fill those vacancies, Vanderslice said.
The six-member Water Pollution Control Authority has two vacancies, which Vanderslice recommends filling with selectmen. “Both the DTC and RTC previously indicated they don’t have candidates. At a previous meeting, I recommended the vacancies be filled with Board of Selectmen members, as the WPCA’s most significant responsibility is the approval of sewer extensions. Such authority is better suited for elected officials who are accountable to the voters. In many communities members of the Board of Selectmen are also the WPCA members,” she said.
Vanderslice also recommends filling the one vacant seat on the five-member Wilton Water Commission with a selectman. “This commission rarely meets as it generally has no business, which is frustrating for appointed members,” she said.
There is one vacancy on the three-member Fire Commission, previously held by Selectman Ross Tartell. This position is on hold, Vanderslice said, until the board determines an appropriate and required background for a candidate.
There are two vacancies on the five-member Building Inspectors Board of Appeals, which by statute must be filled by individuals with specific related professional experience, Vanderslice said. That board has not met in more than 10 years. There are no applicants for the board, she added.
There is one vacancy on the five-member Council on Ethics. Democratic Selectman Ross Tartell recommended that since three of the five seats are held by Democrats, the open seat should not come from the DTC. The selectmen generally agreed with the recommendation and are awaiting a nominee from the RTC.
There is one vacancy each on the Economic Development Commission (EDC), Conservation Commission, and Historic District and Historic Property Commission.
“The EDC is being filled at our next meeting, as the RTC is not submitting a candidate,” Vanderslice said. “The DTC has submitted candidates for the other two commissions, so the selectmen are awaiting recommendations from the RTC,” she said.