Letter: Taxpayers have a right to complete information

To the Editors:

More than two weeks have passed and the Board of Selectmen still has not acknowledged that the number of “no” votes exceeded the number of “yes” votes on the FY16 budget.

The board has talked about voter turnout but has not publicly spoken about the majority vote.

Taxpayer discontent is real and growing. Does the board believe the message sent by the majority of voters who went to the polls is not meaningful?

Sensible Wilton shares the sentiment of “no” voters — the budget, project costs and resulting taxes remain on an unsustainable trajectory.
The budget has grown at an annualized rate almost triple the inflation rate since the first selectman took office in 2006.
Budget material is misleading:

  • Presentations show only current funding requests compared to last year’s requests, not real expenses and revenues. Taxpayers have a right to hard financial data.

  • Bonded capital projects information fails to include approved projects and current bond obligations. Taxpayers have a right to know total bond debt would exceed $100 million for approved and proposed projects in five years. The budget presentation showed only $30 million for proposed projects.

  • The first selectman’s most recent “Vote Yes on the Budget” op-ed did not articulate the total budget amount, omitting amounts for debt service and charter authority. Taxpayers have a right to complete financial data.

  • Most taxpayers are unaware that the fiber optic project was not abandoned after removal from the 2012 referendum. Although opposed by many, not endorsed by the Board of Finance multiple times and its need, ROI and total cost never thoroughly established, it was renamed “Townwide Network” and has been funded on a piecemeal basis ever since, avoiding taxpayer scrutiny. Taxpayers have a right to know the project’s expenditures to date and projected future costs.

The  Miller-Driscoll project’s cost escalation is staggering:

  • A $5 million preschool expansion turned into a $50.2 million design with “wow factors,” calling for the demolition of one of the newest portions of the building in order to accommodate the “most transformative” of the plans the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee considered.

  • Besides cost, hardest to comprehend is the first selectman authorizing $32-$35 million for the renovation, then approving and promoting a design $15-$18 million more than that a year later.

The BOS and MDBC have never publicly divulged any breakdown of the $50,220,000, but taxpayers have a right to know.

On behalf of concerned taxpayers who pay these bills, Sensible Wilton requests the Board of Selectmen quickly post the following on the town website in machine readable format, accompanied by public notification of specifically where each item can be found:

  • Historical actuals (FY06-FY15 Q3) for each line item of the FY16 BOS and BOE budgets, plus debt service and charter authority for each year.

  • A list of bond obligations (including interest), plus bonds approved but not yet issued.

  • A list of all expenses (including date and purpose) related to the Townwide Network fiber optic-conduit installation project from 2010 to date, plus all projected future related expenses.

  • A breakdown of the $50,220,000 Miller-Driscoll project cost.

Alex Ruskewich , President
Sensible Wilton
Wilton, May 26