Finance board sets 0% operating budget growth target

After deferring the setting of fiscal year 2016-17 budget guidance for the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance finally set a 0% operating budget growth target during its Nov. 17 meeting.

The growth target is “not set in stone,” Board of Finance Chair Warren Serenbetz reminded fellow finance board members.

“This is where we think the Board of Selectmen budget should come in,” he said, “and it’s up to the Board of Selectmen to tell us, ‘We can do better than that,’ ‘We can’t quite do that,’ or they do it.”

The idea for the 0% operating budget growth target came from finance board member John Kalamarides, who suggested guidance that says the finance board “would like the town budget to come in at 0, but [is] willing to have the new first selectman come back and advise [the finance board] if it’s too tight.”

Lynne Vanderslice, who will be sworn in as Wilton’s new first selectman on Nov. 30, said the 0% target is fine with her because her goal is “to have it be the lowest number that it can be.”

All finance board members — except Vanderslice, who abstained — voted in favor of the 0% operating budget growth target.

The finance board set a 1.1% budget growth target for the Board of Education — a decrease from the usual 1.75% annual growth target applied to both the Board of Education and Board of Selectmen — during its Sept. 15 meeting.