ELECTION 2021: Meet the Candidate — Rich Santosky, Board of Finance 2-Year Term

Bio

With 35 years of public and private experience, Rich Santosky has a unique perspective in the operation of the departments that form Wilton’s budget. This is essential to understanding department needs and evaluating the appropriateness of proposed expenditures. The president/owner of one of NYC’s largest builder/developers, he has overseen billions of dollars in public work and has deep insights in governmental budgeting, funding, bonding, debt service and union contract requirements.

Rich holds a BS in engineering and as a former Army Engineer Officer, is an effective, non-partisan collaborator with the highest commitment to ethics. He and his wife, Kim, have four children in the Wilton schools. He will strive to enhance the quality of our schools and town services while working to keep taxes in check.

Op-Ed

I would like to thank GOOD Morning Wilton for its coverage of the Wilton elections and for providing this forum for me to discuss why I am uniquely qualified for a position on the Wilton Board of Finance.

While the Board of Finance exercises oversight of the Town of Wilton’s finances and the primary function of the Board is to recommend a budget and a mill rate, it is important to know that this Board does not create the budget. The Board of Finance receives budget proposals from the Board of Education for our schools and through the Board of Selectmen receives proposed budgets for Public Works, the Fire Department, the Police Department, Planning and Land Use, and other divisions of our town government. The Board of Finance reviews, evaluates, and eventually recommends budgets for approval by the taxpayers.

During the past 35 years, I have accumulated a wealth of varied private and public sector experience which provides me a rare and in-depth perspective on many of the departments that shape the bulk of the town’s budget. Understanding how these departments operate is essential to understanding their needs and evaluating the appropriateness of their proposed expenditures.

I am the owner/president of a construction firm that partners with government and private sector leaders at the highest levels, including local members of the U.S. Congress and city officials, as well as respected financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Blackrock, local economic development authorities, and community groups, to develop, enhance and grow communities through economic stimulus. This mainly consists of developing and building quality, affordable housing. In this role, I am responsible for creating and maintaining budgets many times the value of Wilton’s total annual budget. Over the course my career I have overseen several billion dollars of private and public sector investments; however, what I offer goes beyond understanding pure finance matters; general ledger entries, capital expense budgeting, debt servicing and mil rate calculations.

In my early years, I gained hands-on, boots-on-the-ground experience allowing me to understand not only operating under restricted, publicly-funded budgets but where and how to find savings in them. For 15 years I was a volunteer firefighter where I served as the department captain and president. During this time, we implemented training plans and policies and procured a multitude of equipment to conform with new OSHA requirements, including two new fire trucks. I worked my way through college as an EMT and part-time water/sewer treatment plant operator (while studying civil and environmental engineering). I served in the Army/Army Reserve for 18 years where I was assigned to a civilian sheriff’s department supporting the Narcotics Division under the Army Counter Drug Taskforce.  Eventually, I commanded two companies including an engineering company and was the engineer branch chief for a 1,500-acre training site responsible for grounds, buildings, and facilities quite like those our Parks and Recreation Department maintains.

As an engineer, contractor, and developer I have been responsible for building roads, bridges, infrastructure and other public works projects just like we have in Wilton. I understand the requirements of collective bargaining agreements (union contracts) which our town employees operate under. After the attacks of 9/11, I was called upon by the City of New York to assist in the management of the response. While on-site nearly 24/7 for the duration of the effort, I established protocols, managed budget forecasts and accounting processes, as well as the overall cost management for all contractor and consultant operations providing daily updates to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and ultimately Congress, which funded the effort under the Stafford Act.  This was the largest time and material project ever funded by the U.S. Government and it was completed well below forecasted schedules and budgets. I also served two terms as a SUNY College Trustee.

Having been engaged in educational oversight, fire and police service, public works/infrastructure — the departments that make up the vast majority of the Town’s budget — I believe that I am uniquely qualified to roll up my sleeves with actual, hands-on, working experience to evaluate the financial needs of these groups.

With my diverse background, I have become an effective, non-partisan collaborator with the highest commitment to ethics. My wife, Kim, and I are the parents of four children who attend Wilton schools. I advocate for investment in our schools, not only as an educational provider but also as a major contributor to our real estate values. With my experience in real estate development, I understand the need for Wilton to responsibly grow its tax base, increasing revenues at or above the rate of costs so that we do not need to increase taxes.

I greatly appreciate your consideration and support. Should anyone wish to discuss any concerns I can be reached at 914.579.9450.