Finance board honors long-serving, retiring member

The Board of Finance honored retiring board member Warren Serenbetz for his 10 years of service during its Nov. 21 meeting.

“We want to recognize Warren’s extraordinary tenure to this board — most of it in the role of chairman,” said Board of Finance Chair Jeff Rutishauser.

“On behalf of the town of Wilton, I want to thank you for all your years of service. You will be missed.”

State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) and Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26) presented Serenbetz with a certificate on behalf of the Connecticut General Assembly, which offered its “sincerest congratulations” to Serenbetz in recognition of his “dedication and commitment to serving the town of Wilton.”

“You have generously given much time and energy and countless, thoughtful and valuable contributions to the town of Wilton. You have set an example of sound and thoughtful leadership for all who have served with you, and your service has left a lasting legacy for others to emulate,” the certificate read.

“We thank your unwavering dedication to Wilton and wish you much continued success and happiness in all of your future endeavors.”

Lavielle said she had the pleasure of serving under Serenbetz’s chairmanship when she was a member of the finance board, and even ran a campaign with him.

“Always orderly, always cautious and always with the interest of Wilton in mind,” Lavielle said, “I personally thank you for your leadership and everything you have done for Witon.”

Boucher expressed her gratitude and appreciation for all the years Serenbetz has served the town.

“It’s really been a remarkable period,” she said. “The personal reward that you’ve contributed to your community is extraordinary. It is one of the most impactful things that you can do.”

To the entire finance board, Boucher said, “You all represent the foundation of our government here at the local level, [which] everything else is built on, so thank you and we thank your family for giving you up for all that time.”

Board members’ comments

Rutishauser said Serenbetz has run the finance board in a “bipartisan” and “apolitical” way, recognizing “all ideas and contributions” regardless of party.

Democrat and fellow finance board member John Kalamarides echoed that.

“Warren, in everything you’ve done, you’ve done fairly. So often on our issues, you’ve been the deciding vote, and you always handled it very well. I’ve always appreciated that a great deal,” said Kalamarides.

“We’re going to miss you a great deal next year. I think we’re all going to be shaking our heads occasionally and thinking, ‘What would Warren say?’ ‘Can we call Warren for an answer to this?’”

Kalamarides presented Serenbetz with certificates from two Democratic leaders in Connecticut — Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy.

The certificate of special recognition from Himes celebrated “the important contributions” Serenbetz has made to the Wilton community through his years of “passionate leadership and dedication,” and the certificate of accomplishment from Murphy recognized his “exceptional commitment” to Wilton.

That commitment, Murphy wrote, “has been in inspiration to your colleagues, constituents and fellow civic leaders and stands as a testament to your character.”

Serenbetz’s “hard work and professionalism have helped improve the lives of people you serve,” Murphy wrote, and his “dedication to public service and local government brings tremendous pride to the State of Connecticut.”

Finance board member Richard Creeth said when he first joined the board, he felt very welcomed by Serenbetz, who was chair at the time.

“We’re theoretically in different parties, but I think you and I are both in the party of Wilton when it comes to making decisions on the Board of Finance, and I want to thank you for everything you did as chair,” Creeth said to Serenbetz.

“When you’re new on a board like this, you need advice and you were very generous in giving that, and I really appreciate the work that you’ve put in. Thank you.”

Rutishauser presented Serenbetz with two more gifts, paid for by finance board members — a gift certificate to Bianco Rosso and a customized “Serenbetz Blvd.” street sign.

The sign was an inside joke that made everyone on the board smile.

Whenever roads were discussed, Serenbetz would often talk about Signal Hill Road and how “the curbing needs to be replaced on it,” said Rutishauser. “It’s a well talked-about road.”

With Serenbetz leaving the board, “we’re not going to be talking as much about Signal Hill Road,” said Rutishauser, so the board decided to offer Serenbetz an “imaginary road.”

“It will always have two inches of blacktop on it beginning of every spring, it’ll have its curbs lovingly replaced when snowplows break through it, and it’ll be the first to be plowed after every major snowstorm,” said Rutishauser.

Serenbetz comments

Serenbetz, whose seat will be filled by Republican Stewart Koenigsberg in December, said it’s been “a pleasure” working with everyone on the board over the last 10 years.

“I’ve been on the Board of Finance for 10 years — I think six or so as chairman — and everyone I’ve worked with has always had the best interest of Wilton at heart. Whatever the party affiliation, everyone has always been very cost-conscious,” he said.

Serenbetz said he’d like to think that his personal contribution to the town as a finance board member has been working with the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education “to balance the competing needs of our various constituencies in order to keep taxes as low as possible.”

“I’ll miss working with you — I really will — and I wish you all the best in the difficult budgets ahead,” he said.

“I know you’re in good hands with Jeff at the helm, Stewart coming on board and the CFO [Anne Kelly-Lenz]. Thank you all very much.”