[UNOFFICIAL] Wilton Budget Passes — by Default; Voters Approve All Bonding Projects, Including New Police HQ

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BREAKING NEWS, May 7, 2022, 6:40 PM — After polls closed on Saturday, May 7, 2022, the unofficial results were posted at the Clune Auditorium. They show that, with less than the required 15% turnout of eligible voters, the FY 2023 budget has automatically passed as proposed at the May 3, 2022 Annual Town Meeting.

While vote counts are still unofficial, Wilton Registrar of Voters Karen Birck read the vote tallies and posted the machine tabulated vote count at Clune Auditorium shortly after the polls closed at 6 p.m.

In all, 1,099 votes were cast this year, which is a turnout of 8.9%. Of those, 1,076 people voted in person; 22 people voted by absentee ballot; and one ballot needed to be hand-counted after the machine tabulator couldn’t read it and rejected it.

The actual vote count on the proposed budget and mill rate showed that those who cast ballots approved the budget by the following count: Approved — 818; No, too high — 257; No, too low — 19.

That means the proposed FY’23 operating budget of $$130,942,900 to run the town and the schools for FY2023 — a 1.67% increase ($2.2 million) over FY’22 — passed. The mill rate will increase 1.29%.

The six individual bonding questions for FY 2023 also all passed, although these didn’t require a turnout threshold. They all passed on the actual vote.

  • Road restoration/paving, $1,100,000:  Yes — 985, No — 100
  • Bridge reconstruction program, $760,000:  Yes — 956, No — 127
  • New Police Headquarters, $1.64 million: Yes — 836, No — 252
  • DPW vacuum truck, $500,000: Yes — 815, No — 258
  • School district roof replacements, $600,000: Yes — 958, No — 130
  • Planning and design of Middlebrook and Cider Mill HVAC replacements, $100,000:  Yes — 874, No — 214

Town officials were pleased with the turnout and results.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice: It was a great turnout relative to last year, two times the number of voters. I’m so happy to see that everything passed — I’m particularly excited about the Police Headquarters passing and especially with the really strong support, more than 75% of the voters supported that. So I’m really pleased for Chief John Lynch and Captain Tom Conlan and Captain Rob Cipolla and all the members of the department. They really deserve this new headquarters. I’m happy that the voters understood that. And thanks so much to all the folks that worked on this, from Building committee co-chairs Dave Waters and Patti Temple and the other members of the building committee, to the architects, to Chris Burney, and everybody else that really helped. It was a lot of work. A lot of thought went into this, but we brought a great proposal and fortunately, the voters recognized that. Normally a police headquarters doesn’t pass on the first vote, but I do think that there has been so much transparency and information out there on this project. I think that made the difference and we’re really excited.

Board of Education Chair Deborah Low: “The budget process is long and this year has had its share of ups and downs. Now that it’s over, it’s terrific news that the budget passed and by a healthy margin. We are very grateful for the community support.”

GOOD Morning Wilton has sent requests for comment to Board of Finance Chair Michael Kaelin and Police Chief John Lynch. The story will be updated if we receive a response.

UPDATE, 7 PM: Chief John Lynch: “I am thankful for the overwhelming support of our community. I hope it is a reflection of our dedication and positive support for our citizens. The new facility gives us the ability to better protect and serve. It is not just a police facility but serves as a town-wide emergency operations center. The time it took to come to fruition was a process that was difficult, rather lengthy but needed to ensure it was right for everyone. We are humbled by the overall support, the building committee and police commissioners that helped pave the way. Their willingness to volunteer and provide expertise that was second to none. We thank the hard work of Chris Burney who has a unique skill set and most of all the incredible leadership and support of lynne Vanderslice. Without the support of lynne, the board of selectmen and board of finance this would not have been possible.

I also thank all of the police officers past and present who worked hard and were patient during this lengthy process. They protected and served regardless of the difficult conditions. Thank you Wilton!

 

UPDATE, 9 PM – Board of Finance Chair Michael Kaelin: “I am pleased more than one thousand people voted and that all the items passed by a wide margin, especially the police station. I am sure that everyone who worked so hard to present these questions to the voters appreciates their support. I certainly do.”

1 COMMENT

  1. While congratulations and a collective sigh of relief are shared among participants in Wilton Town government, The Board of Selectman, The Board of Education and the Board of Finance, with a Town Meeting and associated vote now concluded, I say hold on a moment.

    Sure the voter turnout was higher than last year’s pandemic impacted vote, but how can anyone celebrate an 8.9% turnout. As has been the case here in Wilton and so many communities across America for a very long time, voter apathy is entrenched and simply shameful. Even more so in these times when so many people are screaming about their Rights.

    Millions of people throughout the history of America have made the ultimate sacrifice and a significant multiple more have been wounded directly or indirectly being left with life long challenges so that “We the People” have the Right to vote.

    I cannot celebrate an election that in part was won by a technical default mechanism. Do people not come out to vote because they believe their neighbor will??? Or because they know that so few voters turn out that the budgets will Pass by Town Charter imposed default (15% or more of the voters must vote otherwise the budgets put forth at the Town Annual Meeting Pass).

    The Board of Educations chairwoman offered thanks… “The budget process is long and this year has had its share of ups and downs. Now that it’s over, it’s terrific news that the budget passed and by a healthy margin. We are very grateful for the community support.”

    Fact is, there is a large community of people in Wilton who sadly don’t come out to vote yet complain about the Board of Education budget. Candidly, I’m typically disappointed year after year that these folks don’t show up to vote because I believe the Board of Education budget needs a scrubbing it’s not getting. I believe the last time the budget was actually voted down was 1996. This year in the course of exchanges between the Board of Education & the Board of Finance the notion was put forth multiple times by the Board of Finance…, “Wants vs. Needs”. This is a serious question that requires a serious answer. Every dollar the Board of Ed receives becomes part of the foundation for the next years budget. Generosity by the town years ago is memorialized in perpetuity. Times are very different. People, yes here in Wilton, are struggling to make ends meet. The Board of Selectman and the Board of Finance seem to be dialed into this reality… not so the Board of Ed. One must question the Board of Ed’s concept of “Needs and Wants”.

    No one seems to have an answer when the question of how do we motivate more voters to the polls besides for a presidential election is asked. Not elected officials or town’s people.

    Perhaps if the 15% default were reversed and the budgets didn’t pass unless a threshold voter count was met would work… Experience suggests probably not, and then you have a terrible fiscal problem.

    This is no time for congratulations. It’s time for the hard work to continue in often thankless positions that keep Wilton running.

    My Thanks to the many who sit on the boards and commissions of our town.

    To the voters of Wilton… this town needs you. Stop making excuses and rationalizing. Step up, be counted, do your civic duty. You have a responsibility to know what’s going on and VOTE!!!

    Just do it!!!

    I did!!!

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