Wilton selectmen send $4M roads and track bond to finance board
WILTON — A delayed school project is back on track. Monday night, the Board of Selectmen voted to authorize bonding up to $1,225,000 for replacement of the Wilton High School stadium track.
The board also authorized bonding up to $2,752,000 for road paving for the 2021 calendar year.
Both projects will go to the Board of Finance tonight for final approval in lieu of a referendum at the Annual Town Meeting.
With Wilton taxpayers facing a potential 4.8-percent mill rate tax hike in next year’s budget, bonding the track and road paving projects could possibly offset an increase.
Finance Board Chairman Jeff Rutishauser brought up bonding at last week’s tri-board budget meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Board of Education and Board of Finance.
Interest rates are at an all-time low, he said, and bonding capital expenditures, which otherwise would be included in the town and school budgets, could possibly be used to lower a tax increase.
The selectmen responded to Rutishauser’s suggestion by proposing bonding for the track and road paving projects.
If the bonding proposal is approved by the finance board, the costs for both projects will be removed from next year’s budget and will be paid by low-interest loans over an extended period of time instead.
The track project calls for replacement of the high school stadium track which has been repaired and patched for years due to deteriorating and unsafe conditions.
The current track would be replaced with a Benyon 300 Track, which has been designed to International Amateur Athletic Foundation (IAAF) standards and has a 20- to 25-year life expectancy, Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pierce said at the tri-board meeting.
The Beynon 300 is the same track Harvard University uses, Pierce said, and holds up well in New England weather. It is made of nonporous materials so water can’t permeate it and is a softer material good for older runners and members of the public who also use the track.
The track has a five-year warranty, which could be extended to seven years, if bidding on the project is done through the National Bid Board. There would be a performance bond with financial penalties included as part of the contracting, Pierce said.
While the selectmen have approved bonding for up to $1.225 million for the new track, the actual cost could be less depending on what color scheme is chosen.
The base cost of the track project in red is $1.115 million, which includes pitching an area for water to sheath off the track into drainage.
It would cost an additional $85,031.22 for a blue track. The option to add gray exchange lines to a blue track would run an additional $22,000.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said people have told her they would prefer the track colored “Wilton blue.”
The track project would be sent out to bid, Vanderslice said, and the $1.225-million bond would cover whatever option the board chooses.
The board would like to bond $2.752 million for road paving projects for the 2021 calendar year.
According to a schedule provided by the Public Works Department, items in this project include 11 miles of road paving in 2021, drainage repairs, catch basin materials and cleaning, roadway materials, and disposal, totaling $3.381 million. An additional $400,000 is included for remaining 2020 road work.
Those costs would be offset by $1.029 million in the remaining road paving budget, bringing the total bond request to $2.752 million.
In previous years, capital bonding expenditures, such as those proposed for the track and road paving projects, required approval by residents at a town meeting.
However, that requirement was modified in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, so the finance board will make the final decision on the track and road paving bonding proposals.
On April 1, Gov. Ned Lamont issued Executive Order 7S allowing suspension of in-person voting requirements for critical and time-sensitive municipal fiscal deadlines.
The order allows financial decisions in Wilton to be made by the selectmen, acting as the town’s legislative body, and the finance board, acting as the budget-making authority, in lieu of public town meetings.
The town conducted its budget approval process in May under 7S, with final decisions on the town and education budgets made by the finance board rather than a town meeting vote.
The finance board is meeting tonight at 7:15 in a virtual meeting which can be viewed from a link on the town’s website. Public comment may be made by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.