FY’20 Budget Overwhelmingly (2-to-1) Approved–But Passes BECAUSE <11% Turn Out
Wilton voters overwhelmingly approved the proposed FY2020 Budget, by a margin of 2-to-1. But that mandate is almost a footnote, because regardless of the support, the budget passed automatically with a voter turnout of 10.94%–far below the minimum 15% turnout required by Wilton’s Town Charter. According to that covenant, if fewer than 15% of eligible voters vote, then the budget automatically passes.
In all, 1,328 votes were cast; 892 voted to approve the budget, while 395 people voted “no, too high” and 40 people voted “no, too low.”
The total FY2020 Budget that passed was $126,787,380, with a mill rate increase of 1.24%. This budget represents a 0.0% increase for the town and school operating budgets.
The budget breaks down as follows:
- Board of Selectmen Operating Budget: $33,501,999
- Board of Education Operating Budget: $81,876,563
- Debt Services: $10,153,497
- Charter Authority: $1,255,321
Voters also considered four bonding resolutions–all of which received resounding support, and passed by wide majority. Turnout percentages didn’t matter in these questions, as the only requirement for passage of a bonding referendum is majority approval.
Road and Parking Lot Restoration: 1,077 Yes, 239 No
Town Hall Roof Replacement: 1,093 Yes, 226 No
School District Roof Replacement: 1,112 Yes, 209 No
Bridge Replacement Program: 1,054 Yes, 262 No
It is unclear why voter turnout was so low, but possible contributing factors may include flat budgets, multiple town center activities, and Mother’s Day weekend. First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, said that she remembers voter turnout being 18% when she was first elected to office, but that turnout numbers have since declined, yearly.
Voting took place twice this week at the Clune Center–once on Tuesday night, May 7, where 200 votes were cast following the Annual Town Meeting, and a second time on Saturday, May 11 where voters cast the remaining votes. Registrars Karen Birck and Annalisa Stravato oversaw the vote along with their team and volunteers, doing a wonderful job coordinating and monitoring the polls.
with additional reporting by Margot Margarones