Wilton’s Board of Selectmen met last Thursday evening, May 20, and discussed several timely topics.
Feasibility of A New Domed Sports Facility
The Parks and Recreation Department has been exploring the idea of a new indoor field house to be located at Comstock Community Center.
The town received three bids for a feasibility study. First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said one proposal from Stantec Sport Group and Consulting Service “was superior on a number of points” at a cost of $24,600.
The study will take about 12 weeks to complete and will include evaluation of existing conditions, a geotechnical investigation, concept plan, code review, and estimated capital and life cycle costs. The scope of the study does not include design.
The BOS unanimously approved a motion authorizing Vanderslice to execute the agreement, pending a final review of the agreement by Wilton’s town counsel.
“I really like the fact that we’re checking this out and seeing how it can add a lot of flexibility to the sports in the town. It will be a big plus if we can find a way to move ahead with it,” Selectman Ross Tartell commented.
Vanderslice agreed, saying it would be “very exciting for the town” and “money well spent.”
Jake Lubel and Matthew Raimondi, both endorsed by the Wilton Republican Town Committee, were appointed to the Economic Development Commission.
George Zhao, also endorsed by the RTC, was appointed to the Energy & Utilities Commission.
Richard Nichol was appointed to the Wilton Employees Retirement Plan Investment Committee. The Investment Committee consists of five members who are appointed by the Board of Selectmen upon the recommendation of the plan trustees, and a sixth member who is a member of the Board of Finance.
Wilton relies on a steady stream of volunteers of all political affiliations to serve on numerous town boards and commissions. A list of vacant positions and information on applying may be found on the town website.
Vacation Policy for Town Employees (Non-Union)
The BOS unanimously approved proposed revisions to the vacation policy for nonunion town employees, as part of the process of updating the town’s Employee Handbook and related policies.
Vanderslice characterized the current policies as rather outmoded and, with regard to the practice of awarding vacation time at the start of the year, disadvantageous to the town.
The language of the current vacation policy along with the proposed changes can be found on the town website. In essence, Vanderslice is seeking to tighten up policies that have evolved over time, so that they can be more uniformly applied and more in step with widely accepted employment practices.
In a memo to the selectmen in advance of the meeting, Vanderslice summarized the changes (in bold below) as follows:
- “Employees earn vacation on a prorated monthly basis from their date of hire and employees are eligible to take earned vacation after six months of employment. Under the current policy, an employee doesn’t earn vacation during their first six months of employment. Over the last several years we have hired a number of new employees hires with experience for which this restriction has been waived as a term of their acceptance of the position.”
- “Employees earn vacation during the fiscal year on a prorated monthly basis. This is the typical means of earning vacation. Under the current policy, employees earn vacation in advance beginning with the first day of the fiscal year. The unintended consequence is that during the year of termination, an employee will receive a payout for vacation days awarded without having worked the time to earn all of the days awarded.”
Vanderslice explained the motivation behind the proposed changes. “Years ago, the town adopted the policy to award vacation in advance because of the impact on new employees of not earning vacation in the first six months … Earning of vacation should return to the generally accepted basis of awarding as you work the associated time.”
The changes also build in “flexibility” at the discretion of the first selectman/woman when it comes to awarding additional vacation allowances for new employees (or newly promoted employees) with many years of experience.
Town-Wide Cleanup Day
Vanderslice informed the BOS that volunteers on the Conservation Commission had scheduled a town cleanup day to take place on Saturday, May 29.
Wilton has historically held a town cleanup day each spring. That changed in 2020 with the arrival of COVID-19. It was not in the town’s plans for 2021 either, until the Conservation Commission announced on May 5 that it would support a volunteer-led effort.
Although the town is not organizing the cleanup this year, it will be offering support by providing trash bags, gloves, and a dumpster.
Vanderslice has previously said the event will provide “a great Memorial Day weekend service opportunity.”
Residents who wish to participate can find all the details in GMW‘s earlier coverage. Prizes are being offered to participants as well.
Upcoming Webinar on Shared Work Spaces for Wilton Residents
The Economic Development Commission has recently been focused on the topic of co-working, which broadly refers to shared office arrangements and flexible workspaces.
Selectwoman Lori Bufano updated the BOS on the EDC’s upcoming webinar on this subject being held on Wednesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. The webinar will be open to all Wilton residents interested in learning more about available, local co-working spaces.
She also reported the EDC is “heavily engaged” on the subject of the town’s regulations on signage for Wilton’s merchants. She added that the commission currently has “quite a few energetic folks” and predicted “some interesting things coming out of the EDC” in the future.
PURA Investigation of Eversource
Though not discussed at the May 20 meeting, Vanderslice recently shared the findings of PURA‘s investigation into Eversource‘s preparation for and response to Tropical Storm Isaias with the BOS.
PURA (the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority) determined that Eversource “was deficient, inadequate, and imprudent” and cited Eversource’s “failure to prioritize the restoration of critical town facilities and priority locations” as particularly egregious.
PURA’s conclusions emphasized that “customers have a right to expect that performance failures exhibited in response to Tropical Storm Isaias will not be repeated going forward; indeed customers have a statutory right to expect that [Eversource] will perform future public service duties in a prudent, efficient, safe, and adequate manner with care for public safety.”
PURA imposed a 90 basis-point ROE reduction (which factors into rates) for Eversource and is also expected to impose fines.
The BOS meeting was recorded on Zoom. Videos of BOS meetings can be found on the town website.