The Monday evening, June 5 Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting was full of GOOD financial news for the town, plus updates on a number of other programs and initiatives.

CFO’s Financial Update

CFO Dawn Norton gave the board an update on Town finances, which included favorable revenue numbers, projected savings on some expenditures, and better-than-budgeted interest rates on Wilton’s May 16 bond sale.

Norton highlighted the following:

  • Approximately $700,000 more favorable revenue forecast, driven by building permits, investment income, and grant revenue that exceeded budget expectations — offset by a $240,000 shortfall in the collection of current and back taxes
  • Approximately $200,000 projected savings on expenditures before the fiscal year-end, “mainly due to vacant positions in the Police Department and turnover.” Norton noted the net savings were offset by additional funding required to stem deficits in the Transfer Station Fund Balance.
  • A successful $13.1 million bond sale at 3.19% — below the budgeted 3.5% for FY2024. Norton explained that 11 bids were received from various underwriting firms “which yielded competitive interest rates on the strength of Moody’s reaffirmation of Wilton’s Aaa rating with a stable outlook”.

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice was pleased with the update.

“That’s all good reporting there,” she said.

Federal Dollars for Police Headquarters?

In her May update to residents, Vanderslice previewed the potential for even more good news for Wilton taxpayers.

She informed residents of the nearly $1 million Wilton might receive in a congressionally-directed spending grant (CDSG) that could be applied to the Emergency Operations Center planned for the new Police Headquarters. If awarded, the money would reduce the amount the Town would need to borrow.

“We are thrilled and grateful Senators [Chris] Murphy and [Richard] Blumenthal chose to recommend our application for a grant for the Emergency Operations Center, which would mean a reduction in required bonding for the new Police Headquarters. Once a federal budget is adopted, we’ll learn whether the award was included in the budget,” Vanderslice wrote in the May update.

She also included the topic at the June 5 BOS meeting.

“That’s great news,” Vanderslice said. “Good for us [if] we’re getting one [CDSG] every year.”

Vanderslice was alluding to the fact that if Wilton is awarded the new grant, it would be the third CDSG Wilton has received in three years: following the 2021 award (also recommended by Murphy and Blumenthal) of $983,000 for Wilton’s new emergency communication system, and the 2022 award (recommended by Rep. Jim Himes) of $1,425,000 for stormwater improvements at the Wilton High School sports complex.

“[We] very much appreciate [congressmen] Murphy and Blumenthal and Himes because all three have been extremely supportive, as have been their staff. Their staff is really key… I want to publicly thank all of them,” Vanderslice said. 

Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credits

The June 5 BOS meeting also included a public hearing on the applications received for the 2023 Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Act Tax Credit Program, which gives a tax credit to businesses for essentially sponsoring programs that benefit the municipality or local nonprofit organizations.

The entire list of applicants and the specific programs proposed by each applicant are posted on the Town website. Examples include $15,000 for operating expenses for ABC of Wilton, $12,650 for a nutrition program at Ambler Farm, and $34,000 for energy efficiency updates at Trackside, just to name a few.

Community Affairs Coordinator Sarah Gioffre briefly reviewed the purpose of the program.

“The Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Act Tax Credit program is designed to provide funding for municipal and tax-exempt organizations by providing [a] business tax credit for businesses which make cash contributions to these organizations,” Gioffre said. “The businesses can receive a credit of 60% of their approved contribution to certain programs, as well as up to 100% in the case of certain energy conservation programs.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the 17 applications received. Businesses will then be able to choose programs to sponsor later this summer.

Vanderslice praised Santa Energy as one business that has consistently supported local organizations through the Neighborhood Assistance program.

“I do not know why more businesses don’t do this,” Vanderslice said. “It’s kind of a no-brainer.”

More BOS News

  • The board met in executive session to discuss two possible appointments to the Economic Development Commission (EDC). With additional questions to resolve, the selectmen will further consider the appointments at the next BOS meeting.
  • The board discussed the interest rate for tax deferrals for the elderly and individuals with disabilities. Vanderslice recommended keeping the rate at 2.75%, in line with previous years.
  • Town Administrator Matt Knickerbocker updated the board on various outstanding projects and RFPs, including the Merwin Meadows playground renovation; Town Hall and Annex repairs; and the Cider Mill elevator repair, among other school facility projects.
  • Knickerbocker also sought the board’s approval to create a purchase order for a five-ton dump truck at $287,235. The purchase order will be effective as of July 1 as a FY 2024 budget item.
  • The board briefly discussed the status of blight and affordable housing legislation at the state level. Vanderslice anticipates a favorable result on a proposed commercial property blight bill. Some uncertainty still surrounds the housing legislation (as well as the state’s budget), with more details expected to be known by the next BOS meeting. Vanderslice’s preliminary assessment is that the housing legislation will be a “first step” — beginning with analysis by the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) — but short of a full implementation of a “fair share” housing approach.