FY18 savings and favorability for Wilton

With uncertainty about the state’s budget still lingering in the air, First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice provided a fiscal year 2018 (FY18) forecast for the town of Wilton during the Board of Finance’s Sept. 19 meeting.

“The good news is that we have some favorability and savings already,” she said.

“We’ve been getting a school construction grant for a prior project. It wasn’t budgeted, but it turns out that this year is the last year, so we’re going to get an additional payment for interest and principal, which is $155,000, so there is some favorability in revenue.”

The Board of Selectmen is currently forecasted to be $265,000 favorable, said Vanderslice, with the “biggest piece of that” being other post-employment benefits (OPEB).

“We’re now up to 83.8% funding — that’s up from 50-something,” she said.

“That’s a significant reduction in the contribution we have to make, so we have $160,000 savings there.”

At 83.3%, she said, “I think we’re the highest funded for OPEB ...  so that’s good. We continue to be conservative.”

Labor savings

With vacancies in the Wilton Police Department and Department of Public Works (DPW), Vanderslice said, the town is going to have labor savings.

“We have three vacancies in the police department that we’ve had open since July. The academy starts the first week of October. We are not hiring three — we’re hiring two and leaving the one open, and we will continue to consider that based on how things go,” she said.

“When you enter the academy in the beginning of October, you’re not ready to go onto the road until July, so there was a lot of thought to put into how many [officers] to hire.”

Savings from DPW will come from Tom Thurkettle’s retirement as director and a vacant driver position, said Vanderslice.

“Tom retired as of Friday and we’re in that search process, but … we haven’t started interviewing, so it’ll be a couple of months there,” she said.

“Mike Ahern, who’s a field engineer, has been assigned the role as interim manager of the DPW. That happened on Monday, so we should be in good shape there.”

A $2.8-million five-year road restoration project to repave 15 miles of town-owned roads per year was approved this May, and Vanderslice said the town would fill the a driver position that’s been open for at least three years.

“We didn't have it filled for this summer and we heard from residents who were unhappy,” she said.

“As part of doing the 15 miles, there’s more prep work — that’s why Tom was saying we have to fill it because there’s going to be all this additional work. We were focused on the paving because that was really our highest priority, so the sweeping and the brush removal was pushed out to be done later in the year.”

After hearing from “a lot more residents this year,” Vanderslice said, “we’ve been doing some sweeping and some brush-cutting, and it’s pretty much the squeaky wheel.”

“What we’re hearing back from the community is that we better fill that position, so that’s something Mike will be looking at,” she said.

“We need to be able to do 15 miles and the brush work and the sweeping to the level that we did in the past. That’s the clear message that we’re receiving from the public.”