Taxpayer survey takes shape

At its meeting on June 19 in town hall, the Board of Finance revisited its plan to launch a townwide survey to find out how taxpayers would like their tax dollars to be spent.

The board had formed a committee in February that has met three times to examine the issue and presented its conclusions Monday evening. Members include:

  • Richard Creeth, Board of Finance.

  • Deborah McFadden, Board of Selectmen.

  • Debbie Low, Board of Education.

  • Sally Poundstone, Planning and Zoning Commission.

  • John Kelly, Economic Development Commission.

  • David Rothstein, citizen volunteer.

The survey would be presented online and would be anonymous, said Creeth, who first presented the idea of a survey to the board last year. Finance committee member John Kalamarides asked if accommodations could be made for senior citizens uncomfortable with using a computer.

Rothstein responded there are plans to assist seniors by, for example, setting up a kiosk at Wilton Library or the senior center where they could get help accessing the survey to fill it out.

The survey will focus on finance issues and will not overlap the surveys being disseminated by the Plan of Conservation and Development.

As far as respondents are concerned, Creeth said the targeted populations they want to tap include seniors, families with children in school, empty nesters, non-voting taxpayers, and those across age demographics. Five hundred responses would be statistically valid provided an ample number of people from each subgroup responded.

“We have the advantage that we have all that census information … we have 2016 [data] 6,142 households in Wilton, we know how many of them have kids … we know our overall number of households and we know the segments we’re going for,” he said. He also wants to hear from the 85% of people who do not participate in the Annual Town Meeting and adjourned vote.

“The whole process is to make sure we are not overweighting one segment and not underweighting another,” he added.

To ensure they are hearing from enough people in each segment, the survey will ask for some demographic information such as age, whether people own or rent a home or apartment, size of household, children in school, employment status, and household income.