Malloy suggests no education cost sharing for Wilton

UPDATE: April 14 — The agenda for the Board of Finance's April 14 special meeting lists deliberation of the established fiscal year 2017 mill rate if necessary, but the matter will not be actionable because April 12 was the deadline for setting the rate of taxation, per the town charter.

April 13 — After Hartford’s majority legislature fell $540 million short of addressing Connecticut’s $930-million deficit estimate, Gov. Dannel Malloy revised on April 12 his office’s Feb. 3 midterm budget proposal by axing all funding through the Education Cost Sharing Grant, for a list of towns that includes Wilton.

In light of this, Wilton’s Board of Finance has scheduled a special public meeting for Thursday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. in town hall Room B, to discuss how to react if the outcome of session negotiations leans more towards Malloy’s proposal than that of the Appropriations Committee.

Wilton expected to be granted $1,461,523 in fiscal year 2017 through the Education Cost Sharing Grant (ECS). Malloy’s plan would have the town receive none of that.

First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice told The Bulletin, “What he’s proposing is to eliminate more than 1% of our entire budget, so it would have a significant impact on us.” Wilton’s overall proposed operating budget is $120 million.

“The affected town would not be very prudent if it did not consider the possibility that the cuts could be much more extensive than they originally planned,” Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) told The Bulletin.

“But it is far from being a certainty,” she added. “There should be an an awareness of the potential for some change here, but we’re going to have to wait to see what happens.”

The current legislative session ends May 4 — one day after Wilton’s Annual Town Meeting.

“It’s possible it could be done next week. I suspect it will take a little longer than that, because the governor's and the legislature’s proposals are very far apart,” Lavielle said.

But under the town charter, Wilton’s budget has to be published by April 21. “I think there’s a high probability that we end up with a significant cut,” Vanderslice said.

Malloy’s proposal also cuts $101.4 million in municipally shared additional sales tax revenue, but according to Vanderslice, town decision makers thought that might happen and did not budget for the $547,000 they stood to be granted through the new program.

Vanderslice said the Education Cost Sharing Grant line in the budget had already been reduced from $1.4 million to $1.2 million.