May 8–Wilton’s BIG Day You Can’t Afford to Miss (Hint: Taxes, Town Meeting, Making Moms Happy & Library’s Ice Cream Social)

This Saturday, May 8 is a very BIG day in Wilton, with plenty of important, great, must-do events. While we always list events submitted to the GMW Event Calendar, the events on May 8 are worth pointing out in their own article.

Annual Town Meeting

First and foremost, the Annual Town Meeting (ATM) will happen in person this year on Saturday, May 8, at 3 p.m. at the Clune Center Auditorium (at Wilton High School, 395 Danbury Rd.). Town officials have posted a public notice for the meeting online.

Why should I attend?

Wilton has a Town Meeting form of government. All property owners in Wilton are members of the town’s legislative body (called the “Town Meeting”) and get a say in the town’s yearly budget setting.

The one time every year all the members of the Town Meeting get together is at the Annual Town Meeting (naturally). That’s when each Town Meeting member can make his or her voice heard in this big, major budget-setting decision.

There’s a direct link between what happens at the Annual Town Meeting, and what you pay in taxes. It’s the clearest opportunity for Wilton residents to set the course for the town. Your input and votes directly impact how much you pay in taxes, and how the town spends your tax dollars.

Here’s the simplest explanation for how that works:  elected Town officials have proposed a budget to run the town and the schools for FY2022. Now, it’s up to residents and property owners to vote on whether or not to adopt that proposed budget. Once the budget is adopted, that’s how the town determines how much to tax each property owner in order to fund the budget.

So if you want a say in your taxes, you need to do two things–the first of which is attend the Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, May 8 at 3 p.m. 

What about COVID-19?

After last year’s COVID-19-imposed ATM cancellation, it’s encouraging that the meeting is in person this year. Of course, requirements for indoor mask-wearing will be enforced.

But there are still several major changes from a typical ATM.

      1. Only Some People Allowed:  Only Town of Wilton electors and property owners who are entitled to vote at the Annual Town Meeting can attend in person. There are a few exceptions:  Town Counsel Ira Bloom, Town Clerk Lori Kabak, Wilton CFO Anne Kelly-Lenz, and someone from the town’s Information Services department will be allowed inside the Auditorium. Otherwise, anyone ineligible to vote–including children, people who aren’t Wilton electors or property owners, or non-US citizen Wilton property owners–will not be permitted to attend inside.
      2. No Live Presentations:  There will be no live presentations by the chairs of the Boards of Finance, Selectmen and Education during the meeting. Instead, presentations may be viewed online in advance of the meeting.
      3. No Voting May 8:  There will be no adjourned voting on May 8 following the meeting. Instead, all adjourned voting will take place on Saturday, May 15 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Clune Center.
What happens at the Town Meeting–and what is being proposed?

Officials have changed the order of events this year. First off, they’ll present the five bonding resolutions–the five projects for which the town would like to borrow money. Full explanations of the five projects are available online, but they are:

        • $1,500,000 for road restoration (paving)
        • $350,000 for replacement of the Middlebrook tennis courts
        • $600,000 for the School District roof replacement program
        • $1,450,000 for a new Fire Department Ariel Truck
        • $583,000 for the bridge replacement program

The public can make comments or ask questions on the bonding items, but there will be no floor votes for changes or public approval.

Then, BOF chair Jeffrey Rutishauser will make a motion to approve the proposed FY’2022 budget and Mil Rate. Again, town officials will not review the proposed budgets in person. (For a detailed look at how the budget was set, read our prior coverage.)

  • The proposed budget for Wilton’s FY’22 operating expenses is $128,788,862. That’s a 1.21% increase ($1.5 million) over FY’21.
      • TOTAL Board of Selectmen: $33,485,486 (1.73% increase over FY’21)
          • Board of Selectmen Operating budget:  $32,210,253
          • Board of Selectmen Capital: $1,275,233
      • Board of Education budget:  $84,804,215 (2.99% increase over FY’21)
      • Debt Service: $9,224,024
      • Charter Authority: $1,275,137
  • The total FY’22 amount that needs to be raised through a levy is $119,717,923, a 2.84% increase ($3,311,539) from FY’21.
  • The proposed FY’22 mill rate is 27.8685, reflecting a 1.48% increase over FY’21.

Those are the proposed numbers. Then the Town Meeting–all the residents and property owners eligible to vote–who are there in person on May 8 will have to decide whether those are the numbers the town should consider at the May 15 vote. 

Any comments or motions to change what has been proposed will only happen in person at the ATM on May 8. Per the Town Charter, amendments can be made from the floor and seconded (and approved or denied) by those in attendance. The only possible changes* that can be made are:

  • Reduce (but not increase) the Board of Education’s total recommended budget
  • Reduce (but not increase) individual line items in the Board of Selectmen’s recommended budget
  • Reduce (but not increase) the debt service recommended appropriation.
Once the Town Meeting finalizes budget numbers, when and how do I vote?

After the May 8 meeting adjourns, the town will hold the adjourned vote on the following Saturday, May 15 from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. at the Clune Center Lobby. Voting is the second thing you need to do to have a say on what municipal taxes you pay.

You’ll have three options to consider on the budget vote:

  • YES, I approve the proposed budget
  • NO, the budget is TOO HIGH
  • NO, the budget is TOO LOW

As always, the town needs to reach a 15% voter turnout threshold in order for the votes to qualify. Otherwise, with less than a 15% voter turnout, the budget automatically passes, no matter what votes are cast.

The bonding referendums require no minimum voter turnout and will pass or fail based on whatever the actual vote is.

Due to COVID-19, voting does not have to be in-person. Any voter may vote by absentee ballot for the May 15, 2021, Town Vote.  

If you want to vote by absentee ballot, you’ll need to fill out an application first (available on the CT Secretary of State website). Applications can either be mailed to the Town Clerk (238 Danbury Rd., Wilton), placed in the dropbox in the vestibule at the back of Town Hall, or delivered by hand to the Town Clerk after emailing or calling 203.563.0106 ahead.

Absentee ballots will be available on Monday, May 10. When filling out the application, indicate whether the ballot should be mailed on May 10 or if you will pick up the ballot from the Town Clerk’s Office.

Completed absentee ballots can be dropped in the secure ballot box outside Police Headquarters up until 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 15 or mailed to the Town Clerk’s office. Mailed ballots must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 14.

GOOD Morning Wilton will bring you the results of the vote LIVE on Saturday, May 15.

Wilton Library Ice Cream Social

Wilton Library is inviting new residents to visit the library for an ice cream social on Saturday, May 8, from 12:30-2:30 p.m.

With so many new people moving to town, Wilton Library is hosting its own idea of a Welcome Wagon. The College Creamery ice cream truck will be parked in the library parking lot (137 Old Ridgefield Rd.) and all new residents are invited to enjoy a free, individually-wrapped ice cream bar courtesy of the Wilton Library’s Board of Trustees, and made possible through the generosity of Kim and Mike Healy, while supplies last.

The ice cream social also commemorates the library’s 125th anniversary that would have taken place last year at this time.

Residents also will be able to sign up for new library cards and tour the building (after the ice cream is finished, of course). There will be a drawing for Wilton Library 125th Anniversary puzzles and a Roku Streaming stick for access to Acorn TV, Kanopy and so much more.

Wilton Library is now open to all without appointments in the adult and teen areas from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays. Please call the Children’s Library for appointments at 203.762.6336 and for adult computer use, please call 203.762.6350.

Mother’s Day Plant Sale 

The Wilton Garden Club is also back with its annual Mother’s Day Plant Sale on the Wilton Center Town Green. Garden Club members will be there on Saturday, May 8, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with a selection of over a thousand “tried and true” native, established transfer plants, plus more than 800 plants lovingly grown from seed in the club’s greenhouse.

There will be a multitude of gifts for mom, including floral baskets, patio containers, vegetable garden transplants, annuals, meadow wildflowers, and small trees and shrubs. From peonies to pollinators, the selection shoppers find at this sale will not disappoint.

For more information about the Annual Plant Sale visit the Wilton Garden Club plant sale website.

Fairfield County Bank Shred Day

Avoid identity theft and protect your privacy. Join Fairfield County Bank for its annual Shred Day on Saturday, May 8, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at its Wilton branch (190 Old Ridgefield Rd.).

Shred old tax returns, medical records, confidential documents, credit card statements, payroll information, and any other documents containing personal information.

Masks will be required.

May 8 Schedule & Map

  1. 9:30-11:30 a.m.  Fairfield County Bank Shred Day
  2. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.   Wilton Garden Club Mother’s Day Plant Sale
  3. 12:30-2:30 p.m.  Wilton Library Ice Cream Social
  4. 3 p.m. Town of Wilton Annual Meeting

*The Town Meeting may not authorize any appropriation for any purpose which was not requested by either the Board of Education or the Board of Selectmen nor recommended by the Board of Finance. The Town Meeting may not reduce any proposed appropriation (the “proposed appropriation”) below that amount equal to the legal obligation of the Town nor reduce the employer’s pension or other post-employment benefits contributions below the actuarially calculated annual required contributions.

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