BOTTOM LINE

  • LET US KEEP THE BOE BUDGET AT A 1.1% INCREASE AS WE GAVE THEM GUIDANCE. LET US KEEP THE BOS BUDGET AT A 0% INCREASE. LET US MOVE THE ENDING ESTIMATED FUND BALANCE FROM 11.2 TO 10 %. I DO NOT WANT TO ENDANGER OUR AAA MOODY’S RATING. WHAT I AM PROPOSING  WILL RESULT NOT IN A 2.27% INCREASE, BUT A 1.49% INCREASE (.79%LESS).
  • LET US TELL THE BOE THAT WE WILL APPROVE THIS YEAR’S INCREASE, BUT THAT THEY MUST COME IN WITH A FLAT BUDGET NEXT YEAR. SO WE ARE BASICALLY APPROVING A 2 YEAR INCREASE NOW.
  • SIMULTANEOUSLY, WE NEED TO GIVE NOTICE TO THE BOE THAT THEY MUST MAKE CLEAR TO US OVER THE NEXT FUNDING PERIOD THAT THEY HAVE TO EXPLAIN HOW THEY INTEND TO DOWNSIZE PERSONNEL (TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS) AND BUDGETS GIVEN THAT ENROLLMENT IS PREDICTED TO FALL OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS. OR WHY THEY MUST KEEP THE PERSONNEL AND BUDGETS.
  • I WOULD ASK THAT THIS DISCUSSION BE DONE IN A HONEST AND OPEN MANNER WITHOUT CONFRONTATION.

RATIONALE

I HAVE THOUGHT HARD AND LONG ABOUT THE BUDGET FOR NEXT YEAR. I KNOW MY FELLOW MEMBERS OF THE BOF AS COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS. I HAVE TALKED INDIVIDUALLY WITH EACH, AND I UNDERSTAND THEIR POSITIONS—IN FACT, I AM IN SYMPATHY WITH SOME OF THOSE POSITIONS.

I RESPECT THEIR POSITIONS, BUT I DISAGREE THAT WE NEED TO MAKE THESE DEEP CUTS TO THE BOE AND THE BOS BUDGETS AND BEGIN A SPARTAN EXISTENCE HERE IN WILTON.

WE HAVE TWO GREAT DRAWS FOR PEOPLE TO COME TO LIVE IN WILTON: OUR FINE SCHOOL SYSTEM AND OUR AAA CREDIT RATING.

WHAT WE DON’T HAVE IS A “HIGH STREET RETAIL” WHERE SHOPS AND CORPORATIONS LINE AN AVENUE AND CONTRIBUTE TO OUR TAX BASE.

OUR REALTORS CAME TO SPEAK TO THE BOF AND TOLD US THAT, YES, TAXES ARE A CONSIDERATION FOR POTENTIAL HOME BUYERS IN WILTON, BUT TAXES ARE NOT THE WHOLE ARGUMENT. PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR MORE AMENTIES INCLUDING MORE PLACES TO SHOP, AN EASIER WAY TO GET TO STAMFORD AND THE CITY, AND MORE RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES.

IT SEEMS TO ME THAT TO BUILD OUR GRAND LIST  WE NEED OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION TO GO INTO HIGH GEAR TO DETERMINE WHAT WILTON SHOULD BECOME AND THEN TO PUT FORTH A PLAN THAT WE CAN AGREE ON AND THEN TO IMPLEMENT IT.

BOE BUDGET

I CANNOT MORALLY JUSTIFY ANY FURTHER REDUCTIONS IN THE BOE BUDGET AFTER WE GAVE THEM GUIDANCE OF A 1.1% INCREASE. YES, WE CAN CUT THE $130,000 DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 1.27% THAT THEY BROUGHT FORTH TO A 1.1% INCREASE. ANYTHING FURTHER WILL ENDANGER THE QUALITY OF THE SCHOOL SYSTEM WHICH IS OUR SHINING STAR.

YES, CHANGES NEED TO BE MADE—IN STAFFING AND IN SPED-BUT CHANGING A SCHOOL SYSTEM IS LIKE TURNING A BATTLESHIP. IT TAKES TIME. IT IS NOT LIKE A CORPORATION WHERE AN UNDERPERFORMING DIVISION CAN BE DISMANTLED OR SOLD IN AN EXECUTIVE DECISION.

LET’S GIVE THEM NOTICE AND TALK WITH THEM ABOUT CUTTING BACK.

BOS BUDGET

WE HAVE ASKED THE BOS TO COME IN WITH A FLAT BUDGET REQUEST. REMARKABLY, THEY HAVE DONE THAT. TO ASK THEM TO GO FURTHER AT THIS POINT IS CUTTING INTO THE MARROW. IT WOULD ENDANGER SOME OF THE SERVICES WE ALL EXPECT; IT WOULD DEFER SOME EQUIPMENT PURCHASES THAT COULD CAUSE GREATER EXPENSE LATER.

ANY DEEPER CUTS WOULD COME FROM THE ORGANIZATIONS WITH WHICH WE HAVE A PUBLIC-PRIVATE ARRANGEMENT: THE LIBRARY, AMBLER FARM, AND TRACKSIDE. CUTS TO THEIR BUDGETS NOW COULD THROW THEIR MISSION INTO DISARRAY. THESE ORGANIZATIONS ARE VITALLY IMPORTANT TO OUR TOWN AND EACH OF US KNOWS THIS BECAUSE WE USE AND ENJOY THEM.

WE DON’T WANT TO ASK BOS TO CUT FURTHER.

TWO THOUGHTS

LAST YEAR 11.5 % OF ELIGIBLE VOTERS VOTED IN THE TOWN BUDGET.

BECAUSE MORE VOTED AGAINST THE BUDGET THAN FOR IT, MANY HAVE GONE ON TO USE THAT STATISTIC TO MAKE THE CLAIM THAT THE TOWNSPEOPLE HAD SPOKEN AND THAT TAXES WERE TOO HIGH.

BUT WHAT OF THE 88.5% WHO DID NOT VOTE? WERE THEY NOT INTERESTED, OR DID THEY THINK THAT THE BUDGET AND TAX INCREASE WAS FINE?

SINCE THEN WE HAVE MADE CLEAR THAT AS A VOTER YOU NEED TO STEP UP AT THE PUBLIC HEARINGS FOR EACH BUDGET, WRITE LETTERS EXPRESSING YOUR OPINION TO THE BOF, AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, VOTE AT THE TOWN MEETING.

THIS YEAR WE SAW MIDDLEBROOK AUDITORIUM FILLED AND VOTERS SPEAKING 4 TO 1 IN FAVOR OF THE BOE BUDGET. GOOD MORNING WILTON’S POLL SHOWED 2.76 TO 1 IN FAVOR OF THE TOWN BUDGETS AS PRESENTED. LETTERS SENT TO THE BOF WERE IN THE SAME RATIO.

WE CANNOT IGNORE WHAT WILTONIANS ARE SAYING TO US. THEY ARE IN FAVOR OF THE BUDGETS AS PRESENTED.

I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT ALL OUR THREE CHILDREN GRADUATED FROM WILTON HIGH SCHOOL, THE YOUNGEST IN 1994. MY WIFE AND I BELIEVE WE ARE PAYING FORWARD FOR THE FINE EDUCATION THAT OUR CHILDREN RECEIVED—AND WE ARE HAPPY TO DO IT.