Letter: Wilton budgets can stand further cutting

To the Editors:
The Annual Town Meeting is upon us. This one is even more critical as the financial impact for most of us is likely to be significant. The key factors that will have major effects on our property tax are:

  • Property reassessment.

  • Federal tax law limits state income tax and property tax deduction.

  • Hartford has proposals to pass increased taxes on to many towns.

  • Connecticut and neighboring states are losing population.

Given the storm we are facing, and the fact that we will be competing with neighboring states for new citizens, make it imperative that we control our ever-increasing taxes. This year the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen have shown they understand the difficult situation we are in. The Board of Finance has requested that both the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Education live within the amount of last year’s budget. In spite of the weeping and wailing by the BOE, I believe even that amount is too much for the BOE. If the BOE cannot find additional savings in their budget of almost $82 million, something is lacking in their fiscal responsibility. Some spending examples are:

  • School Superintendent take-home pay was increased by $35,974 to $242,000 last year. The governor of Connecticut makes $150,000.

  • In 2014, Assistant Superintendent received a raise $23,993 that bumped her yearly salary from $161,007 to $185,000.

  • A study stated that we were significantly overstaffed with psychologists. Nothing was done even though enrollments decreased.

I believe the BOE should be able to easily reduce its budget by between $1.5 million and $2 million to help mitigate the financial difficulties of many of the town citizens.
Many of our citizens will be impacted by no longer being able to claim a tax deduction for a significant portion of their state and property taxes. In addition, the reassessment that has just been completed can cause a significant increase in their property taxes. Since many citizens with higher-priced houses have had the value of their houses drop significantly, the mill rate will have to be raised. The impact can then fall on many of our less wealthy citizens. The table below illustrates the potential impact on a citizen who has had his assessment increased from $500,000 to $550,000. Each taxpayer will have a different situation and should do the calculations for him/her self.

I encourage all of you to attend the meeting Tuesday, ask questions and you decide for yourself whether we can continue spending as we have in the past. It’s important that you get out and vote your opinion; others will be voting their opinions. Encourage your friends and neighbors to also attend and vote.
Alex Ruskewich
Sensible Wilton
Wilton, May 6