Federal tax plan will have no effect on town budget process

The federal tax plan that was passed this week in Washington, D.C., will have no effect on Wilton’s budgeting process. That was the consensus at Tuesday night’s Board of Finance meeting.

“We run this town by a town meeting,” Chairman Jeff Rutishauser said Dec. 19. “The citizens of our town determine how much we spend on services based on recommendations of this board and the Board of Ed and Board of Selectmen. … We run it in a way to try to provide the right level of municipal and educational services for all our citizens.

“That’s the way we’ve done it for decades. That’s the way we’ll do it this year and that’s the way we’ll do it for years to come. … As we go forward in the budgeting season, nothing’s going to change. The Board of Ed will come up with their budget and we’ll review it, the Board of Selectmen will come up with theirs and we’ll review that. We’ll present it on May 1 and the town will determine the level of services that they are taxing themselves to provide for themselves.

“What is happening in federal tax policy does not impact what we do,” Rutishauser emphasized. “It doesn’t force us — and the key word is force us — to do anything. We do what we want to do here based on what we think the needs and the wants are of our citizens.”

Of the tax plan, Walter Kress commented on implications for real estate transactions. “Lowering the amount of mortgage interest that would be deductible, the threshold there would theoretically have an impact on those upper-end houses, houses over $1 million, which have had fewer transactions recently and a couple that have gone through open markets. … I would imagine different pieces of the market in the community would be impacted differently.”

Committee member John Kalamarides commented that nonprofit organizations in the community may be worried about charitable donations. While charitable donations would still be deductible, for people who would not itemize under the new plan, the tax benefit of a charitable donation would be negligible.