As the community prepares for the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, May 2, the following information is being provided to assist voters in understanding the bonding referendums and the three means of voting.
This year’s ballot contains six questions — the FY2024 Annual Budget question and five bonding questions. The amounts stated in the bonding questions are estimates with contingencies. The amount for the proposed turf field has been reduced by a committed donation. Information on the questions is as follows:
- $127,000 for design work for the construction/reconstruction of Scribner Hill Rd.: The total current estimated project cost, before completion of design work, is $1,827,000. The balance of the project cost will be requested at next year’s Annual Town Meeting.
As a result of damage to the road, the northbound lane of the road was closed last June. A geotechnical engineer was engaged to evaluate the damaged section. This next phase is the design of the required construction/reconstruction to repair the damage and make the road fully usable again. The Town applied for a state grant to partially fund this project. That grant application was denied because the road is not a commuting route.
- Up to $1,935,000 for an artificial turf field at Allen’s Meadow: The amount is comprised of the current estimated cost of $1.823 million, plus $109,000 or 6% estimated inflation for a spring 2024 construction start, plus $182,200 thousand or 10% standard contingency, less a $180,000 donation from the Wilton Athletic & Recreation Foundation (WARF). Once the bid is received, the inflation and contingency amounts will be adjusted. A detailed PowerPoint presentation, including documentation of need, a detailed cost breakdown, turf versus grass comparison, and more is available online.
- $950,000 for the replacement of a fire truck: Fire trucks are replaced on a 20-year cycle. Three years are required between when the monies are approved and when the fire truck is delivered. At that point, the current fire truck will be more than twenty years old. The replacement fire truck will have an undercarriage made from a different material than the current fire truck, which should allow for a longer life than 20 years.
- $780,000 for school roof replacements as part of an ongoing program to replace school roofs or roof sections: Required replacements are based on thermal scanning and engineering evaluations.
- $275,000 for the design and installation of a new elevator at the Cider Mill School: The current elevator has aged out and does not meet the State’s relatively new building code for elevators.
Actual borrowing for approved projects will begin in the spring of 2024. This is because the Town borrows once per year. Borrowing once per year allows for proper budgeting and most projects need time to design, bid, and contract. Also, the Town only borrows the actual amount required and when the amount is needed. For example, last year voters approved $16.4 million in bonding for the police headquarters; $10 million is being borrowed in 2023 and the remainder in 2024, with construction occurring over two years. We also adjust the borrowing timeline to minimize year-over-year changes in debt service expense.
Regulations require that the Town only borrows the amount we expect to spend. We are not allowed to borrow in advance of needs for the purpose of interest rate speculation. Borrowing can’t exceed the amount approved in the bonding questions.
Historical and forecasted bonding and debt service are available on the town website.
Absentee and Ballot Voting
Registered voters and qualified property owners may vote immediately following the Tuesday, May 2 Annual Town Meeting or on Saturday, May 6 at the Clune Center (395 Danbury Rd.) from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or by absentee ballot for those unable to vote in person. A sample ballot is available online.
Annual Town Meeting voting requires a special absentee ballot application with special rules:
- Applicants may designate a family member or another qualified individual to pick up and/or drop off their ballot.
- The Town Clerk’s Office may not mail or distribute ballots until Wednesday, May 3 because the recommended budget and mill rate may be changed at Tuesday night’s Annual Town Meeting.
The application is available online. Please read it carefully.
Completed ballots must be received by the Town Clerk by 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 6. Absentee ballots may be dropped off in the Absentee Ballot Drop-Off box outside of the back entrance to Town Hall (238 Danbury Rd.). The Town Clerk will check the box at 6 p.m. If mailed, a postmark is not a receipt.
Rules for absentee voting are administered by the Secretary of State and based on state statutes.
Please email me with any questions.