Small things take up time. That’s a direct quote from Wilton’s new first selectman, Lynne Vanderslice, who at her first Board of Selectmen meeting on Dec. 7 suggested that a formal delegation of power to the first selectman be made in order to expedite administrative processes.
“After seven years on the Board of Finance and looking at a lot of these small things,” Vanderslice said, “it takes up time, and I’d like see this board spend a lot more time on strategic discussions.”
Her thought was that the selectmen could agree upon a certain monetary threshold, below which their signatures would not be necessary for the execution of grants and contracts.
“If we’ve got a copier contract, do you really want to talk about that?” asked Vanderslice, the town’s chief executive and administrator, rhetorically.
Vanderslice furnished her fellow town executives with a number of proposed threshold levels but also explicitly offered them more time to think about what was then on the table if they should desire an extension.
“I accept your offer to give us some time to think about this,” said Selectman Michael Kaelin. “There are political issues here, too, and [what you’re suggesting] would depend on what we would characterize as a small contract.”
Vanderslice agreed. “It’s subjective,” she said.
Kaelin added, “It’s a good idea, and I’m glad you raised it, because we don’t want to impair your ability to do your job, and we don’t want to waste the board’s time with things we really shouldn’t be dealing with.”
Selectman Dick Dubow was aligned with Kaelin. “I would like some time to think about it as well,” he said, though admitting, “I would like to see us move in this direction.”
“Whatever the number turns out to be, would there be some sort of notice [at meetings]?” asked Selectman David Clune.
“I could give you a reporting at the meetings, that these are the contracts I approved and the gifts I accepted,” Vanderslice replied.
“The other thing that I would like to see is this policy reviewed on an annual basis, routinely,” Dubow added, which Vanderslice said she would be amenable to.
While the Wilton Town Charter stipulates that only the Board of Selectmen may enter into contracts and accept gifts on behalf of the town, Section C-17.B allows the board to “delegate in whole or in part any of its powers and duties to the first selectman or any other selectman or selectmen … to assist in the discharge of its duties and responsibilities.”
“The charter says that only the Board of Selectmen has the authority to enter into contracts, but where do you draw the line? We’re not going to be here approving contracts for copier paper and paper clips and things,” said Kaelin.