Wilton budget is passed
Wilton voters approved a fiscal year 2019 budget and three additional questions on the Annual Town Meeting by overwhelming majorities last week.
Even if the budget had not passed on the number of votes it received, it would have passed anyway because turnout was just 13.04%. When fewer than 15% of eligible voters cast ballots, the budget automatically passes.
The turnout disappointed First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice who told The Bulletin, “One of the many goals I set for myself as First Selectwoman was to exceed a 15% turnout every year that I was in office. Therefore, I am personally disappointed that despite increased turnout efforts, we only achieved 13% turnout.
“While it is still fresh in residents’ minds, I'll be putting out a short survey in an attempt to understand why residents don't vote and if we can do something different to facilitate voting.”
Voting took place after the Annual Town Meeting on May 1 and adjourned voting on May 5.
The budget of $127,563,331 million received 1,084 yes votes, 532 “no, too high” votes and 13 “no, too low” votes. Adoption of this budget will impose a mill rate of 28.1875, 1.51% higher than the current year’s mill rate.
The budget includes:
- Board of Education operating budget: $81,876,563.
- Board of Selectmen operating budget: $32,319,728.
- Board of Selectmen capital budget: $1,182,271
- Debt service: $10,921,766.
- Charter authority: $1,263,003.
The five-year road restoration project at $3 million to repave 15 miles of town-owned roads per year received the most “yes” votes of all questions, passing by a vote of 1,416 to 211.
Replacing the artificial turf at Kristine Lilly Field with coconut husk infill at a cost of $700,000 passed by a vote of 1,054 to 568.
Repaving and installation of additional lighting at the Board of Education bus barn, where school buses are stored on School Road at a cost of $400,000, passed by a vote of 1,010 to 610.
Despite the turnout, the results were welcomed by Vanderslice. “On behalf of the town employees and the Board of Selectmen, I want to thank the taxpayers for approving the budget and the three bonding proposals,” she said. “The FY 2019 budget reflects our efforts to think differently in order to reduce costs and minimize tax growth while still providing quality services.
“The quality of our roads is clearly a shared priority for residents and the Board of Selectmen. We acknowledge the lower rate of support for the re-turfing of Lilly. To avoid bonding for future re-turfing, we are working with residents and sport organizations to provide a sinking fund for the next replacement at the stadium and Lilly.”
On the general economic situation she said, “These are difficult times for the State of Connecticut and Wilton as we have not, and realistically may not for some time, return to the home values and earning levels residents enjoyed prior to the recession.
“The next budget promises to bring several challenges, but there are also opportunities on the horizon. The completion of the Route 7 medical building, ASML’s $100-million expansion, the new assisted-living facility at the corner of Orems Lane and other Route 7 properties currently under consideration are indicators of the high level of interest in investing in Wilton. Properly managed growth along Route 7 can contribute to the vibrancy of the community and reduce the future tax burden for residents.”
At the time of the Annual Town Meeting, there were 12,373 registered voters. The number of electors voting was 1,614. There were also 17 non-elector property owners voting. Non-resident citizens who are at least 18 years old and liable to the town for taxes on real estate property — or a motor vehicle — with an assessment of at least $1,000 on the Oct. 1, 2017 grand list are eligible to vote for or against the budget.
This story has been edited to include comments by First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice.