State fiscal problems belabor Wilton’s budget process

First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice warned the public during a meeting of the Board of Selectmen Feb. 21 that the Board of Finance is going into this budget season blind, as officials await details of what will become of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s attempts to shift burdens to the towns to meet the state’s estimated $1.4-billion deficit in fiscal year 2018 alone.
For Wilton, Malloy’s proposals would mean a more-than-$1-million reduction in educational aid plus a $4-million expense to cover the state teacher pension plan. If both are adopted by the legislature they could mean an approximate 5% increase in Wilton’s annual budget, Vanderslice has said.
“They’re going into this blind,” Vanderslice said of the Board of Finance. She said the chairman of the finance board asked her to develop alternative budget requests, reflecting cuts of $250,000, $500,000 and $1 million, something she does not want to do.
“It will mean jobs,” Vanderslice said of the possible cuts.
The Board of Selectmen is preparing for its budget meeting Monday, Feb. 27, at 7:30 p.m. at town hall.
“It’s going to be a difficult job this year,” Vanderslice said.
Second Selectman Michael Kaelin warned there is not a lot of room to cut jobs in departments like police and fire.
“We have the minimum number of police officers and firefighters, and we can’t cut,” Kaelin said.
Jeffrey Rutishauser, chairman of the Board of Finance, had said the previous week there will be potential cuts to services or potential tax increases, or both, if the governor’s proposal gets enacted, shifting the financial burden from the state to the towns.
“It hasn’t gone through the review process with the legislature and is therefore not final yet,” Rutishauser said. “But the direction that we saw last year, of Hartford reducing their support of municipalities, especially ‘affluent’ ones, appears to be continuing this year.”