The following is an op-ed released by the first selectman, Lynne Vanderslice, with updates and details on several issues and projects in front of the town. 

We are five weeks into the new fiscal year and the town is in limbo as we await a State budget and decisions on proposed cuts to municipal aid and the proposal to require Wilton to assume a share of the cost of the teacher pension.

The Board of Selectmen is taking a proactive approach to prepare for any outcome. Department heads, the Police and Fire Commissions and I are developing a FY2018 “plan B” budget to present to the BOS. This will give us a road map should any aid reductions or pension shifting be approved. It also gives us a jump on the FY2019 budget.

We continue to work with [school superintendent] Dr. Kevin Smith and the Board of Education on joint initiatives.  With Chris Burney now serving as facilities director for both the town and the schools, he is focused on joint cost savings. The Town finance department already performs a number of services for the BOE. Town CFO Anne Kelly-Lenz continues to work with them to identify opportunities for more. Town IS director John Savarese is providing assistance by overseeing the installation of the schools’ new phone system. Town HR director Sarah Taffel provides pension administration services for BOE employees who are not in the teacher pension plan.

We are working on several other initiatives:

Miller-Driscoll Renovation

The project will be completed ahead of schedule, under budget and ready for the start of school. The net cost to Wilton property taxpayers is forecasted to be $36 million or $14.2 million less than the $50.2 million approved by the voters.  (Total cost of $43 million less $7 million of state funding, of which $6.3 million has been received.)

Pedestrian Bridge

After a yearlong review by CT DOT and other agencies, we have the approvals to move ahead with a pedestrian bridge across the Norwalk River connecting the Wilton Center Train Station to the trail behind Portofino’s. The State previously provided a $500,000 grant to fund the project.

Road Paving

Paving is ongoing and will continue into the fall. Roads were selected based on age, condition and geographic distribution. The list of roads to be paved and their status is on the Town’s website.  We will be paving 50% more miles this summer and fall versus last year.

FY2017 Forecasted Financial Results

The BOS actual results are approximately $100,000 favorable to budget. Total Town revenues will exceed budget by approximately $160,000. Debt Service is approximately $250,000 under budget due to lower interest rates. The $1.2 million in budgeted Charter Authority was not needed and is available to reduce next year’s mil rate.

High School Tennis Courts

The replacement of the courts is expected to take 45 days and begin after summer.

Schenck’s Island/Merwin Meadows Study

The Schenck’s Island/Merwin Meadows Committee is actively working to develop proposals for both locations. Public input will be sought. Minutes and agendas are on the town website. This summer, attendees of the Sunday concerts were able to see the potential at both locations. These popular concerts were provided at no cost to the town due to the support of donors.

Upcoming Enhancements to Access to Information and Services

Several initiatives to facilitate and improve resident access to information and Town services are in the works for implementation this fiscal year, including online GIS data, mobile and online citizen reporting of issues, new Parks & Recreation registration and rental software and a new customer service-driven website.

Revaluation

All property will be revalued as of Oct. 1, 2017 for use in determining FY2019 and future property taxes. Vision Government Services has been hired to assist with the process. Valuations will be mailed in February; appeals will be heard in March.

Police Station/Town Hall Campus

Environmental testing, building evaluations and determination of utilization and space availability at Comstock Community Center are ongoing. To minimize costs, we anticipate permanently moving some Town Campus employees to the vacant space in Comstock. The project will be brought to next May’s Annual Town Meeting. Minutes and agendas are on the town website.

Fire Station 2

The Committee has identified a source for potable water and chosen an architect to develop preliminary design and cost estimates. The project will be brought to next May’s Annual Town Meeting. Minutes and agendas are on the Town website.

Solar Installation–Miller-Driscoll and Middlebrook

Work is ongoing and will continue into the fall.

Plan of Conservation and Development

Planning & Zoning has selected Milone and MacBroome as a consultant for the 18-month process of updating the Town’s plan. Affordable housing will be a key discussion point. Workshops and public forums will begin this fall. Keep your eyes open for the notices.

Blight

Blight cases have been increasing and typically involve many issues and multiple Town departments. Town Counsel developed new procedures, which we are utilizing. Addressing blight is time consuming, but a priority for the Town.

Have a Question?  Email or Call Us

If you have a question, contact us. Due to freedom of information laws, board and commission members cannot engage in Town business through Facebook. All Town employees and board and commission members have emails in the same format as mine, as follows:  lynne.vanderslice@wiltonct.org. If you are unsure as to the person to contact, please email jacqueline.rochester@wiltonct.org. She’ll make sure your question is directed to the right person.