As Wilton’s annual budget process nears completion, the Board of Finance (BOF) has launched a timely new survey for Wilton residents, designed to help board members anticipate how voters might respond to the FY2023 budgets which the BOF will ultimately present to voters at the Annual Town Meeting in May.
A 7th Inning Survey Stretch
Compared to the BOE budget at $87.6 million, the BOS is the smaller of the two budgets at $33.9 million, and also has a lower annual rate of increase (1.37% vs. the BOE’s 3.26%).
As a result, the BOF has been eying the BOE budget with particular attention. Even during the March 15 meeting dedicated to reviewing the BOS budget, BOF discussions often strayed to the BOE budget details or budget process.
Historically, Wilton’s budget increases have been lower, leading the BOF to question what tolerance voters would have for significant budget increases, even if the BOF judged the budgets to be appropriate.
While the BOF has the authority to reject line items in the BOS budget, it does not have that authority over the BOE budget. The BOF can ask the BOE to reduce a budget by a certain dollar amount, but it cannot tell the BOE how to do so.
For that reason, the new BOF survey does not include specific questions probing for potential areas where the BOE budget could be cut, even though some board members had advocated for such questions as the survey was being drafted.
BOF Clerk Matthew Raimondi, who led the survey initiative on behalf of the board, gave GOOD Morning Wilton a preview of the survey.
“The Board of Finance is launching [the] budget survey to quantify people’s sentiments towards the budgets and potential mill rate increase [of 1.94%],” Raimondi told GMW.
He sees the survey as an expansion of the board’s ongoing efforts to solicit resident input by email from the start of the budget process.
“We’ve greatly appreciated hearing directly from the residents via email outreach — and people should continue emailing us — but [this] survey provides a quick outlet for hearing people’s perspectives,” Raimondi said. “As with the emails we’ve received and the direct conversations we’ve had, the results will help inform our budget deliberations.”
How To Participate
The survey will be conducted primarily online, with paper questionnaires available at key locations such as the Wilton Library, the Senior Center at Comstock Community Center, and Town Hall. Details will be updated on the Town website.
Raimondi says the survey is brief and could be completed in just two to three minutes.
He also assured residents that their answers would not be personally identifiable.
“All responses are anonymous and entirely confidential,” Raimondi said. “When we close the survey, all results will be combined and presented in an aggregated format.”
Raimondi expects the results will be summarized and shared during the budget deliberations beginning on April 4, and urged all residents to respond to the survey.
“This is a chance for the residents of Wilton to have their voices directly heard by the Board of Finance ahead of final budget deliberations,” Raimondi said.
Two public hearings will be held this week in advance of the BOF budget deliberations beginning on April 4:
- Public hearing on the BOE budget, March 23, 7 p.m., Middlebrook Auditorium
- Public hearing on the BOS budget, March 24, 7 p.m., Middlebrook Auditorium
The BOF survey will conclude on March 31.