Letter: Your vote on the town budget is important

To the Editors:

On Tuesday, May 6, the Annual Town Meeting will be held in Middlebrook School to vote on Wilton’s town budget for the next fiscal year. In spite of the Board of Finance (BOF) trying to keep the budget increases to a more reasonable 1.75%, both the Board of Selectmen (BOS) and Board of Education (BOE) came in with significantly higher requests. A major argument they made were that these increases were mainly due to “contractual commitments.” They forgot to mention they were the ones that entered into these contractual commitments. This reminded me of the anecdote of the young man who, after killing his mother and father, asks the judge for leniency because he is an orphan.

Another fact that seemed to be ignored was that personnel costs are also affected by total headcount. We all realize what happens in the business world when personnel costs become too great, headcount freezes and layoffs. It is hard to understand why we cannot get productivity increases to allow us to operate with fewer personnel.

Another argument that was made by the BOE was that special education costs were a major factor in budget increases. Those of you who read last week’s Bulletin probably read about the significant settlement offered to a family, which had raised issues with the quality of the air at Miller-Driscoll. This was the same family that identified a radon test that was done improperly and had to be redone. The settlement was to be funded as a special education expense.

The BOE budget also includes a 14% increase in the high school athletic budget. The budget identifies the cost per participant for the various sports. Though the average is about $700 per participant each hockey player costs over $2,400. I find it difficult to understand why participants in these activities are not asked to share the costs involved, rather than pass all the expense on to the general taxpayer. Many of our neighboring towns have already come to that conclusion and instituted significant participation fees.

I intend to vote “No, too high” on this budget next week to support the BOF as they try to manage the out-of-control spending. I feel it’s time for the taxpayers in Wilton to say enough is enough.

Alex Ruskewich

Calvin Road, April 28