The Board of Selectmen delivered their proposed $32.4 million budget to the Board of Finance last week. At last night’s BoS meeting (March 7), first selectman Lynne Vanderslice reported that while the BoF chair Jeffrey Rutishauser told her he appreciated that the BoS FY ’17 budget came in below last year’s budget by $17,315, there is still a concern.
“He was very pleased that we had not only met their target, but our budget was actually $17,000 less than we asked for last year. He was pleased, but there was a big ‘but‘ at the end of that sentence,” Vanderslice told her fellow selectmen, adding that the BoF is facing a tough reality as they look to set a final budget to present to residents.
“They have $2.5 million shortfall that they as a BoF expect they’re going to be dealing with. If you look at what was paid last year in taxes, and any changes in revenue, and you compare that to the expenses of the budgets that are being requested [this year], considering what they have as surplus that’s what they’re looking at now,” Vanderslice said.
What has been discussed in meetings and in municipal circles is how that shortfall will be closed—either through tax increases or cuts to the budgets requested by the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Education.
She added that town finance officials are looking at “…anything we can do to beat this year’s budget, whether on the revenue side or we come in under expense, that helps to fill their gap.”
The proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017 approved by the selectmen at last week’s (March 2) budget workshop breaks down as follows:
$31,018,191 town’s operating budget
$ 1,396,696 operating capital budget
The BoS had been asked by the BoF to put together a budget that reflected 0% growth from FY ’16, but as Vanderslice pointed out, the proposed budget she delivered actually comes in $17,315 below last year’s approved budget.
The BoS next meets with the BoF on March 16 to review the proposed selectmen’s budget, and it will be presented to the town at a budget hearing on March 29 in Middlebrook Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.. The BoF hopes to receive feedback from town residents in person that night or via email.
The BoE’s proposed FY ’17 budget will be presented to the town at a similar hearing on March 28, also at Middlebrook Auditorium, at 7:30 p.m..
Grand List Shows Little Growth
Also at last night’s BoS meeting, Wilton’s town assessor David Lisowski presented the grand list to the Board of Selectmen at their meeting last night. While numbers are not yet final, it looks to show a .18-percent increase.
According to Vanderslice, “that allows the town to cover an additional $250,000, roughly, in expenses.”
Lisowski said he filed the grand list with the town clerk on Feb. 26.
Some of the factors impacting the slow growth was that penalties collected in previous years from commercial property owners who file paperwork late has dropped considerably, because those owners are submitting on time. In addition, the amount of building in town, both residential and commercial, has decreased.
Lisowski added that the grand list number is not yet finalized as the Board of Assessment Appeals still has a handful of appeals to review. He was hopeful that the number would be finalized by the second week of April, he said.