Letter: Back to normal in Wilton

To the Editors:
Following the summary dismissal of Sensible Wilton’s concerns with seeming ethical and procedural issues surrounding the $50 million Miller-Driscoll project, life returns to normal in Wilton.
As always, school interests and high levels of spending needed to support them win out. Whereas we all want good schools at reasonable cost, it seems that anyone challenging the good intentions or volunteerism of those for whom no school-related expenditure is ever too large are dismissed out of hand. Wilton has become a way station for young families who flock in “because of the schools” and then leave when their children graduate. This growing majority will understandably vote for any educational budget, regardless of cost, because it is in the interest of their children. This has led to a sense of entitlement when it comes to accessing the town’s coffers and diminished sensitivity towards seniors who sacrificially pay into those coffers on fixed incomes.
If the selectmen demonstrated equal concern for the financial impact of their decisions on all of Wilton’s citizens, perhaps there would be less discord in how the town’s business is conducted.
When taxes increase annually, those on fixed incomes feel the impact disproportionately. Wilton schools may be the reason people now move to Wilton, but years ago Wilton was simply the Connecticut town closest to New York City where one could still reasonably afford a home. Those who came then are mostly retired and simply wish to stay in a town and with friends they know. However, when tax burdens get heavier due to school budget increases and capital projects bonding, many are forced out. Social Security payments that are first taxed as income by the state and then essentially confiscated by town hall penalizes the segment of Wilton’s population least able to take up the slack for others. Any real estate agent will tell you that Wilton is less competitive because of high property taxes.
The selectmen had opportunity to address the financial concerns of Wilton seniors several years ago but eventually punted the ball, even ignoring the recommendations of consultants brought in to study how best to provide tax relief to seniors. The selectmen couldn’t stomach the idea of lost revenue if seniors were given any real reduction in property taxes. Instead, the board likes to claim credit for Stay at Home in Wilton, a privately driven initiative, and takes comfort in periodically painting and refurbishing a few rooms for seniors at Comstock Community Center. Surely this town can do better than that.
The action by Sensible Wilton has reinvigorated the discussion about what is “financially feasible” as opposed to what is “nice to have.” Those taking umbrage that their work as volunteers/advisers to the Miller-Driscoll project isn’t respected should keep in mind those veterans who lead the march on Memorial Day. These aging “volunteers” are representative of those citizens of long-standing residence whose service and contributions helped build this town. Their interests should at least have equal standing.
Michael E. Graupner
Signal Hill Road, Feb. 21