TODAY is Wilton’s Annual Town Meeting — Why It’s Important to Attend

The 2018 Annual Town Meeting was well-attended.

Now that town leaders have proposed a town budget for Fiscal Year 2023, tonight is the very important Annual Town Meeting when residents and property owners now get to decide whether or not to move that proposed budget to the vote and consider six bonding questions. Voting begins tonight at the meeting’s conclusion and continues Saturday, May 7.

Once the budget is adopted, that’s how the town determines how much to tax each property owner in order to fund the budget.

Why attending in person is critical: After town officials present their proposed budget to the attendees, eligible voters who are there in person can offer comments. Eligible voters can also make motions to change the budget proposal — but only to reduce the budgets proposed. Only voters who are present can decide the final figures that will then be put to voters at the conclusion of the meeting and on Saturday.

Officials will also have a Zoom feed of the meeting, but only those attending in-person can participate.

(For detailed information on the budgets, meeting procedures, bonding questions and presentations, visit the town website.)

Annual Town Meeting Details

The meeting is held at the Wilton High School Clune Auditorium (395 Danbury Rd.). Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Attendees must check in — don’t forget to bring an I.D.

Who can attend and who can participate: All members of the public can attend, but only eligible voters can participate. To be eligible, you must be one of the following:

  • registered to vote in Wilton
  • a U.S. citizen, 18-years-old or older, who owns taxable property with an assessed value of $1,000 or more on the Oct. 1, 2021 grand list.

Attendees who are not eligible to vote will sit in a different section of the auditorium.

What happens at the meeting: The meeting will follow Robert’s Rules of Order.

Following a few administrative steps (appointing a moderator and parliamentarian, establishing procedures, etc.), the six bonding resolutions will be presented first, followed by public comments on the bonding questions. Motions cannot be made to change the bonding resolutions.

Then, the chair of the Board of Finance will present the proposed budget, including the mill rate, followed by brief presentations from the first selectwoman (detailing the town portion of the budget) and the Board of Education chair (explaining the school portion of the budget).

  • Elected Town officials have proposed a FY’23 operating budget of $130,942,900 to run the town and the schools for FY2023. That’s a 1.67% increase ($2.2 million) over FY’22.
      • TOTAL Board of Selectmen: $33,943,364 (1.37% increase over FY’21)
        • Operating budget:  $32,985,813
        • Capital: $957,551
      • Board of Education budget:  $86,677,862 (2.21% increase over FY’21)
      • Debt Service: $9,025,210
      • BOF Reserves: $1,296,464
  • The total FY’23 amount that needs to be raised through a levy is $123,021,600, a 2.76% increase ($3,303,677) from FY’22.
  • The proposed FY’23 mill rate is 28.2289, reflecting a 1.293% increase over FY’22.

During the public comment period that follows, eligible voters can speak about the proposed budgets, and make motions to change them. Only motions to reduce the budgets are allowed under the Town Charter, as follows:

  • reduce a line item in the Board of Selectmen (town) budget
  • reduce the total Board of Education (school) budget
  • reduce other line items in the budget, but not to the extent that the town can’t meet legal obligations.

Once the vote is called, eligible voters who are present will vote on the motions and, by a majority vote, will choose a recommended budget to present to voters.

The meeting will adjourn and voting will begin.

(The full agenda is available on the town website.)

Voting

Question 1:  The Budget
  • You’ll have three options to consider on the budget vote:
      • YES, I approve the budget proposed at the Annual Town Meeting
      • 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.
Question 2-7:  Bonding Referendums
  • There are six bonding resolutions to consider — the six projects for which the town would like to borrow money. (Full explanations of the six projects are available online):
      • $1,100,000 for road restoration (paving)
      • $760,137 for the bridge replacement program
      • $16,400,000 for the construction and furnishing of a new Wilton Police Department headquarters
      • $500,000 for a new vacuum truck
      • $600,000 for school district roof replacement
      • $100,000 for a study and design of Middlebrook and Cider Mill HVAC replacement
  • The bonding referendums require no minimum voter turnout and will pass or fail based on whatever the actual YES or NO vote is.

There is a sample ballot available on the town website.

In-person adjourned voting for the Annual Town Vote will take place on Saturday, May 7 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Wilton High School Clune Auditorium (395 Danbury Rd.).

Voters can vote by absentee ballot. Absentee ballots will be available in the Town Clerk’s office beginning on Wednesday, May 4. The deadline for voting by absentee ballot is Friday, May 6 at 4:30 p.m.