We’re trying something new–a compilation of noteworthy news from Town Hall and Wilton’s municipal Boards and Commissions. These items may be fast updates, or mentions that don’t necessarily require in-depth analysis or detailed accounting but Wilton residents should know what’s happening nonetheless.

Board of Selectmen–July 23, 2018

Special Meeting to Pick a New BOS Member Monday

Next Monday, the Board of Selectmen will vote to fill the open seat vacated by Michael Kaelin in June. To do so they will hold a special meeting on Monday, July 30 at 8 p.m..

There are two candidates that the BOS will consider–the Republican Town Committee candidate, Josh Cole, and the Democratic Town Committee candidate, Ceci Maher. No unaffiliated candidates petitioned to be considered.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice suggested that instead of interviewing the candidates in executive session, the BOS members should interview them during the public portion of the meeting. “Since this is normally an elected position, that we do the interviews in public, since it is a vacancy.” She referred to a similar, public interview process that the Planning and Zoning Commission conducted to select new members of the Village District Design Committee.

The board will then deliberate and decide in executive session before naming its choice.

Gifts Made to Wilton

Sometimes in the perennial discussion about municipal taxes, a resident will suggest that anyone who is in favor of higher taxes for everyone should instead just make their own individual gift or contribution to the town. Guess what–sometimes residents or businesses do just that!

At the start of every meeting, the selectwomen and men read off a list of thank yous to anyone who has made a gift to the town. This past Monday, they thanked the following donors and gift-givers:

  • Realty Seven, Inc.:  $250 for Horseshoe Pond
  • F. Jared Sprole:  $200 for Horseshoe Pond
  • Jeff and Ebba V.K. Lavaty:  $100 for Horseshoe Pond
  • Wilton Baseball and Softball Association:  New infield clay/sand mix for Wilton High School Varsity Softball Field
  • Wilton High School Tennis Boosters:  Four player benches for the Rte. 7 WHS Tennis Courts
  • Norwalk River Village Trail:  Two benches at Horseshoe Pond Park

The Tax Deduction Dance:  What to do if Property Taxes are No Longer Deductible

Along with possible federal tax reform that might curtail deductions on state and local taxes (SALT), the State of CT is putting in place measures to help taxpayers and municipalities. There’s a recently enacted Public Act 18-49, “CT’s Response to Federal Tax Reform,” allowing towns to create a charitable organization that can accept contributions in lieu of property taxes. Those contributions might be tax deductible, even if property taxes aren’t.

Vanderslice noted that the secretary of the Office of Policy Management issued a memo advising that municipalities “take a wait and see approach” about whether to move forward on creating such a charitable organization. The IRS has not yet issued final guidelines about whether those contributions would be considered deductible.

According to the first selectwoman, Wilton’s town counsel, Ira Bloom, also weighed in on what to do. He agreed, and recommended the town do nothing at the moment, for two reasons:  not only may the IRS not allow such contributions to be deductible, but also because the state’s Public Act doesn’t provide enough details on how a town would implement such a charitable organization. “Even if the IRS were to change course, we still need more than what’s in the legislation,” Vanderslice said.

Among the worries about moving forward now is should Washington prevent deductions on such donations to a municipal charity,   anyone who did make donations may come after the town for interest and penalties.

She noted that CT is one of several states that last week filed suit against the federal government regarding the SALT changes.


To see how this can impact local giving, see our story about how this may impact Wilton Library funding and donations, here…

Wilton’s Deer Hunt

Mike Russnok, the chairman of the Wilton Deer Management Committee, presented the 2018 Controlled Deer Hunt Plan to the Board of Selectmen. The plan lists the town-owned properties and Wilton Land Trust properties that will permit hunters to hunt deer during hunting season. Also included in the plan are properties owned by the South Norwalk Electric and Water utility as well as the Aspetuck Land Trust.

Russnok said the plan already has been approved by the Wilton Conservation Commission. Last night he got the required approval from the Board of Selectmen as well.

Vanderslice said that each year, before deer hunting season begins, she receives emails from members of the public with questions or concerns about the deer hunt. She asked Russnok to explain more about the hunt, including requirements about posting notices where deer hunts are scheduled and what hunters are required to do.

Russnok explained that hunters are required to post notices when they are hunting on a property listed on the town’s plan. Some properties limit hunters to using only bow and arrow to hunt, depending on size of the parcel, while other larger sites permit firearm hunting as well. He said the Committee follows state guidelines for determining what is permitted.

In addition, the Deer Committee will notify adjacent property owners by mail before the hunting season starts to inform them of the dates during which the hunt will occur on the nearby land. “We try to do our best to notify the real close proximity neighbors so they know what’s going on.”

Vanderslice suggested “widening that circle.”

“Now that we have this great GIS system to generate those mailings, you can just say how many feet back you want to go. Maybe it would be good to widen that circle a bit.”

She also said it’s important to inform people who are new to the community or who are surprised to know that there is a deer hunt that the first deer committee was formed years ago as the community began to deal with the onset of Lyme disease spreading through the region.

“From the Department of Health standpoint, Lyme disease is a significant disease, it’s a debilitating disease, and to the extent that this hunt has helped reduce the number of people getting Lyme disease. And also from the standpoint of public safety on the roads, deer accidents, hitting deer can be very dangerous. In general we think there’s a public health and safety issue associated with this, and that this hunt is helping with both of those issues.”