Residents speak out on municipal budget

Fewer than a dozen residents — many speaking solely in favor of the Comstock Community Center — were on hand to offer comments at Tuesday’s public hearing on the Board of Selectmen’s budget.

Selectmen had approved their $32,105,267 budget request on Friday, March 7, by a unanimous vote.

The proposed budget represents a 3.5% increase over Fiscal Year 2014.

Per the selectmen’s proposition, the operating expenditure budget would increase by 2% — from $30.2 million to $30.8 million —  and the operating capital budget would increase 60.9% — from $700,000 to $1.3 million.

Wiltonian Ed Papp ended the evening while speaking on the word choice in a presentation by First Selectman Bill Brennan.

“I’m concerned with the use of the word progressive. It’s traditionally associated with big brother, big government socialism. I hope that is not the sentiment.”

The first resident to speak, Curt Noel of Keelers Ridge Road, said he was at the meeting primarily as a representative of his neighbor Marissa Lowthert, the head of Parents for Responsible Education.

He asked “various town boards” to look at the possibility of completing what he called “seven to 10 years” of deferred maintenance on the Miller-Driscoll School before beginning the school’s renovation.

“Think about the students and the teachers moving into a healthy environment,” he said.

Holding on to retiring residents was another point of discussion Tuesday Night.

Alex Ruskewich cited a study by Market Watch that called Connecticut one of the 10 worst states for retirement when he said “one of the reasons is property tax. There are many projects in town we would like to do, but can we still afford them and keep people in town?”

He also said the real estate market will begin to suffer because the tax rate in town has gotten out of control.

Pat Russo, a real estate agent and resident of Wilton, disagreed and said he believed Wilton remains a “very competitive town because of the pricing. Taxes are a concern, but we are seeing a real revival of people actively seeking out Wilton because prices are attractive,” he said.

Mr. Papp continued the discussion on town projects later when he said, “If a service is offered in the Yellow Pages, subcontract it out.”

He also said he believed in the need to improve Comstock Community Center, but the previous year’s spending had made that project unaffordable.