The Board of Finance is holding its public hearing on the Board of Selectmen‘s budget for FY’18 this evening, Monday, March 27. The hearing presents the opportunity for residents to learn more about what’s in the budget, what isn’t in the budget, and what’s at stake with town finances. It’s also the opportunity for residents to tell the Board of Finance what matters to them about the budget. Do you think it should be cut? Do you think it should be protected?

At the start of the budget process months ago, the BoF gave the selectmen guidance and suggested they aim for a minus-1.25 percent change from the FY’17 budget of $32.20 million. Instead, rather than offering a decrease, the BoS has put together a proposed budget that comes in at $33.23 million, or $1.03 million (3.2-percent) above the current year’s budget.

At a recent meeting between the two boards, first selectman Lynne Vanderslice told the BoF members that her board is “really uncomfortable” making cuts.

“We understood your target, we heard your target. It was not something we thought was achievable in the best interests of the town,” she said. “We put together the budget we thought was in the best interests of the town.”

Vanderslice has warned that if her board is asked to make cuts, reductions would most likely have to come primarily from personnel headcount.

Tonight’s public hearing provides a venue for Wilton residents to give feedback to both boards about what’s important to them–protecting town services, keeping taxes as low as possible, what fees they’re willing to pay or not pay, etc.. It’s that feedback the town’s finance officials will take back to their board room to deliberate just what to do–either keep the Board of Selectmen budget as it is or send it back to the BoS with specific instructions of where cuts need to be made. It’s a critical step as part of the whole budget process, before Wilton gets to the Town Meeting on Tuesday, May 2 for the vote on the town’s total proposed FY’18 budget.

Tonight’s meeting will not be broadcast live on cable Channel 79; instead it will be recorded and played after the fact. GOOD Morning Wilton will live blog the meeting, as always. But the best thing to do, of course, is to show up for the meeting in person. Fill the seats, let your elected officials know how you feel and what you want. Be part of the process that impacts your property taxes and your town.

The meeting will be held in the Middlebrook auditorium, starting at 7:30 p.m..

Liquor Ordinance Change Proposal

After the public hearing on the budget is adjourned, the selectmen will immediately convene a public hearing on a proposed change to the town’s liquor ordinance that applies to hours that Wilton restaurants can serve liquor.

The BoS is seeking public comment on a proposal to extend hours that restaurants can serve alcohol, making the town’s ordinance match current state regulations.

The move follows a recommendation from Wilton’s Economic Development Commission, which has suggested that doing so will help improve the town’s image as more business-friendly and will be less restrictive on current restaurant owners.

Town residents will vote on the proposed change at the Annual Town Meeting on May 2.

Upcoming Budget Meeting Dates

Following tonight’s meeting, there are several important dates to keep in mind regarding the town’s budget process and taxpayer’s responsibilities and rights to participate:

  • Wednesday, March 29 and Thursday, March 30:  The BoF will hold deliberations on the proposed budgets, and set the mil rate. These meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall and televised on Ch. 79.
  • Tuesday, May 2:  The Annual Town Meeting and Vote–This begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Clune Auditorium at Wilton High School. The vote begins immediately following the close of the meeting. This meeting will be televised on Ch. 79, and live blogged on GMW.
  • Saturday, May 6:  The Adjourned Vote–Voting continues at the Clune Center for anyone unable to vote on May 2. Polls open at 9 a.m. and close at 6 p.m..

What can you do, in addition to attending meetings and voting?