Sometimes more than 15% of Wilton turns out to cast a vote on the town budget at the Annual Town Meeting and Vote–but not always, and certainly it’s rare for that number to ever top 20%. Quite often, town officials hear from a very limited number of people during the budget building process in the months leading up to those yearly May meetings, and the residents adding their voices are frequently the same ones speaking up year after year.
Now, the Board of Finance is trying to get input from a wider swath of Wilton’s citizenry on just which areas those residents want the town to spend their taxes. Board of Finance members, with input from other town officials, have created an online survey to better understand residents’ financial priorities.
According to the survey introduction, answers and opinions are intended to “inform and shape decisions that our elected town leaders will make…” and enable the Board of finance to “comprehend better how well the Town is doing in serving its residents.”
Officials estimate that the online survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. The survey will remain online for at least the next six weeks or until an adequate number of responses has been received. The survey is anonymous, and data will only be reported at an aggregate level.
Survey questions were composed by a subcommittee of members from the Boards of Education and Selectmen as well as Wilton citizens. Board of Finance member Richard Creeth chaired the subcommittee tasked with creating the survey.
“We understand that everybody would like their taxes to be lower, but equally most people realize that providing the high level of service including schools, roads and public safety costs the Town a lot. Hopefully this survey will increase our understanding of the taxpayers financial priorities.”
To show you just how much is at stake, the Town of Wilton’s annual budget our current Fiscal Year 2019 (July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019) is $128.7 million.
- The largest component of the budget is the school district budget, at $81.9 million, which covers salaries for teachers and all other operating and administrative costs for the entire Wilton Public School District comprising the four Wilton Public Schools (Miller-Driscoll, Cider-Mill, Middlebrook and the High School).
- Then there’s the Board of Selectmen’s budget, at $33.5 million, which includes costs for public safety, operating and maintaining town facilities, parks and roads, land use regulation, social and administrative services, school and public health nurses, and grant to the Wilton Library Association and other nonprofits that benefit the community or maintain town-owned historic properties.
- The other two elements of the budget are debt service ($10.9 million) and capital expenditure and contingencies ($2.4 million).
What covers almost all of that budget? Property taxes.
Town officials are hoping that as many people as possible, from across all sections of the community, will complete the survey. That includes all age groups and socio-economic segments. That’s really the only way for the results to be meaningful
As the survey materials distributed by the Board of Finance put it, all Wilton citizens are “encouraged to take this opportunity to let their voice be heard.”