BOS Promotes Good Causes, Sees Dangers on the Roads, and Advances Agenda Items

The members of Wilton’s Board of Selectmen were quite busy last night, Monday, June 7.

In addition to holding a Special Meeting on the subject of First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice‘s salary, they also held a Public Hearing to discuss applications from various local causes for the 2021 Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Act (NAA) Tax Credit Program and held their regular meeting with numerous tasks and discussion items on the agenda.

Public Hearing on NAA Program

In late April, the town announced it was accepting applications for the 2021 Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Act (NAA) Tax Credit Program.

The town facilitates the application process for the NAA program, a “win/win” tax credit program in which municipal and tax-exempt organizations receive funding while corporations receive business tax credits for making donations to those causes.

Applications may qualify for up to $150,000 for programs that involve energy conservation, education, community services, crime prevention, open space acquisition, employment and training, child day care, and child care, among others.

According to the town’s announcement, six Wilton tax-exempt organizations benefitted from over $45,000 generated through the program last year.

This year, the BOS received applications from the following organizations; details of the funding requests may be found on the town website:

  • Apple Blossom School and Family Center
  • Friends of the Norwalk River Valley Trail
  • The Grumman Hill Montessori Association
  • Ms. US President, Wilton
  • Riverbrook Regional YMCA
  • Wilton’s Environmental Affairs Department
  • Trackside Teen center
  • Visiting Nurse of Fairfield County
  • Wilton Historical Society
  • Wilton Library Association
  • Wilton Soccer Association
  • Wilton Youth Council
  • Woodcock Nature Center
  • Zion’s Hill Preschool

The applications will move on to the state level, where Vanderslice says a list will be published and businesses may apply for the tax credit for their donations.

WPD Traffic Data

Wilton Police Department Captain Robert Cipolla presented the BOS with wide-ranging statistics on auto collisions and traffic stops in town.

He first noted that 2020 was impacted by major changes on the roads with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Traffic stops, for example, are up a whopping 65% year-to-date compared to the same period in 2020.

In roughly the past month, there have been 29 auto accidents with injuries (fortunately, none fatal), versus 16 for the same time period last year.

Cipolla shared graphics from the UCONN Crash Data Repository which shows significant clusters of auto accidents near Wilton High School (from the main entrance to Catalpa Rd. to School Rd.) as well as the intersection of Danbury Road and Sharp Hill (see main image, above).

Cipolla says the WPD uses the data to target police activity around what he called the three E’s:

  • Education: such as social media posts or speaking with youth groups, for example
  • Enforcement: Cipolla points out that most traffic stops are an opportunity to warn and educate, not just to issue tickets and summonses
  • Engineering: countermeasures such as improved signage

While not discussed in the meeting, the data in the WPD report also show that while overall crime is down 8%, certain crimes are up significantly, including assaults (+38%), larceny (+23%, driven by thefts from motor vehicles, +91%), and stolen motor vehicles (+33%).

Other Business

  • The BOS authorized Vanderslice to execute an agreement between Wilton and Save The Sound for the removal of the Strong Pond dam in Merwin Meadows. The agreement covers the initial phase of the design and construction planning. Another agreement for the second phase will be drafted for the actual construction work.
  • Anne Kelly-Lenz, Wilton’s Chief Financial Officer, reported on a “very successful closing” of a bond refunding sale, which she said would save the town about $350,000 over the next several years. Selectmen Joshua Cole called it “a testament to our fiscal prudence” that the town received half a dozen bids for the bond sale.
  • The BOS authorized an agreement with Cott Systems, Inc., for land records management. Wilton currently uses the Cott software system for the Town Clerk‘s records, but the new agreement will add a marriage license module and will be cloud-based. Though there will be a $2,000 per year cost increase, some of that cost will be offset in savings to the town’s other resources.
  • Town Engineer Frank Smeriglio gave an update on bridge replacement/repair grant applications. Wilton’s bridge capital plan can be found on the town’s website. The BOS authorized the submission of two grant requests: one for Honey Hill and one for Cannon Rd. bridges, which had been downgraded in the last state inspection of Wilton bridges.
  • Vanderslice gave an update on guidance for the use of American Rescue Plan funds. When signed into law in March, Wilton’s allocation was expected to be approximately $5.3 million. While there were some conditions for how the monies could be used, specific details were short. While more information is emerging, there is still uncertainty as to whether Wilton will be able to use the funds, as hoped, for a new emergency radio system or replacing the town’s reserves that were drawn down during the pandemic.
  • Vanderslice raised her ongoing concerns about Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) violations among Wilton’s scores of board and commission members. GMW is covering that in a separate story today.