Wilton's financial situation 'in a good place'

Town of Wilton Chief Financial Officer Sandra Dennies gave a 2013 fiscal year update at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday night, April 1.

“This is an interesting year,” Ms. Dennies began. “When you compare where we are now to 2012, we’re not that far off.

“Our revenues seem to be coming in strong and our expenditures appear to be right on our target. We’re in a pretty good place overall.”

According to Ms. Dennies, the town has begun to receive some of the education revenue, though there is still more to get.

Smaller revenues have also been coming in, such as alarm registration, according to Ms. Dennies, and fees “look good.”

The town has started to receive the cost of a paramedic in Georgetown billed to that fire department.

“That’s a major step,” she said.

On the expenditures side of the ledger, Ms. Dennies expressed concern over the Police Department with regard to officers missing work due to long-term illness.

Also of significance is the budget at Comstock Community Center. The center has spent $237,000 of its allotted $245,000.

“Problems with the roof have exceeded all expectations,” she said in her presentation to the Board of Selectmen.

Additionally, Comstock did not budget for the reimbursement of a $33,000 grant from CL&P.

On the plus side, Ms. Dennies indicated Parks and Recreation would “be OK.”

Perhaps the biggest source of concern for her in the expenditures is the Fire Department, whose personnel have caused an overage of $185,361. Chief Paul Milositz said the reasons for this were a shift coverage and overtime because of new firefighters going through training. (See story on page 3A.)

First Selectman Bill Brennan said that “overtime is actually very cost-effective. You’ve got to have coverage. All of that adds up due to shift coverage that is necessary.”

Extenuating circumstances have caused an abundance of overtime, according to Mr. Brennan and Chief Milositz.

“The Police Department has had three officers with very serious illnesses,” Mr. Brennan said. “You can’t forecast that. One officer was out for extended medical leave for a long time, and then retired. These things have added to the overtime issues that we have.”

Ms. Dennies returned to the podium following Chief Milositz to add that her biggest concern is the special education portion of the Board of Education budget.

“We typically have budgeted for about a $500,000 or $600,000 revenue to be coming to the general fund,” she said. “Typically their grant is about $1.1 million. The auditors make an audit adjustment to use any of the revenue that comes to the general fund to offset additional costs. We will not see that this year and we budgeted $500,000 as a revenue.

“We have a few areas in the budget that I am very concerned about that we are watching closely, especially as we start moving into the final quarter.

“The Board of Selectmen, I’m certain, are interested in us finishing the year in the black. We have done that in all of the prior years that I’ve been here, and I’m certain that we will do that. But it’s going be a very tough act to pull off.”