To the Editor:
We Will Respond to Budget Challenges, Together
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and brought with it many challenges. Members of our community have suffered income reduction, loss of employment and many local businesses are struggling. But challenges must be met with swift and collaborative solutions.
Wilton’s citizens and government have rallied to find new ways to serve those in need and respond to the crisis. However, we will only find the right solutions together and need your critical feedback on budget decisions that will have a profound impact on our ability to overcome these challenging times.
2020 Budget Process
The Board of Education (BOE), Board of Selectmen (BOS), Board of Finance BOF), and town government are working hard to adjust budgets in the face of the current social and economic realities. We invite you to be part of the modified budget approval process by voicing your thoughts and opinions.
Given the current emergency, the state has changed the budget approval process. Here is an outline of the key changes:
- Wilton residents can review the budget documents on the town website and then provide input through letters to the boards or through public comment at board budget meetings.
- [One of] the Governor’s Executive Order[s] canceled the May [Annual] Town Meeting vote on the budget. Instead, the Board of Finance (BOF) will vote on the town budget and set the Mill rate [June 1-3, 2020].
- Bonding items will be on the ballot in November instead of May. They have not yet been finalized.
We Need Your Perspectives and Priorities
The BOF has asked the Board of Selectmen (BOS) to revise the submitted budget and present four new scenarios from the last [year’s] budget, by May 12: The BOE must do the same, except that state regulation (Minimum Budget Requirements) requires minimum funding levels.
- Down 2%
- Down 5%
- Down 10%
On Monday, May 11, the BOS has a special budget meeting to determine the four scenarios requested above. We need your input in order to be able to build your opinions into the revised budgets.
Wilton let us know what you are for!
There are critical decisions to be made and we cannot make informed decisions without your guidance and participation. For instance, the town has public/private partnerships with the Wilton Library and Trackside. Both are temporarily closed, have canceled fundraising events, and lost rental income. What is your level of support for these important community organizations?
In the last recession, 2008-2011, we deferred maintenance and cut back on road paving (which we have been playing catch-up on). The schools also had high enrollment, partially because private school students came back to Wilton schools.
Wilton town employees have been putting themselves at risk to do their jobs and serve our community during these incredibly challenging times. How do you feel about wage freezes, hiring freezes, staff cuts?
Government is not like business. In an emergency, the needs increase, even if revenue may fall. Wilton has a responsibility to serve our citizens. We will debate allocating additional resources to Social Services, Health, Information Technology (IT) and reopening our town.
Wilton is financially strong. We have a Aaa bond rating, which we must protect because it keeps our debt costs down. Our pensions are well-funded. Most of Wilton’s revenue comes from property taxes and even in the worst of times our collection rate is over 99%.
What Are Your Priorities?
Tell us your views on how we must meet those needs in a fiscally responsible way.
We invite you to tell us your priorities under the current circumstances. Comments can be directed to:
Deborah McFadden, Wilton Selectwoman
Ross Tartell, Wilton Selectman