There’s one more step to finalize the budget for Fiscal Year 2019, now that Wilton held its Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday. Wilton’s eligible voters now have to show up to the polls on Saturday to vote on whether or not they approve the proposed budget. Machine voting takes place Saturday, May 5 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Wilton High School Clune Center (395 Danbury Rd.).
Even if you attended Tuesday night’s meeting and voted with your green cards during the hand counts–if you did not stay until the end to cast a machine ballot, you still need to finish the process and vote on the final budget.
Voting only takes five minutes. If you plan to be out and about on a busy Saturday–on the sports sidelines, running errands, entertaining visiting guests, whatever the reason–make sure getting to the polls and voting fits into your day.
If you can’t make either of those times, you can still vote by absentee ballot–see below for details.
You can vote if you are:
- registered to vote in Wilton
- a resident or nonresident owners of real property—or a motor vehicle—valued at $1,000 or more on Wilton’s last completed Grand List (Oct. 2017).
- In all cases, voters must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old.
As approved by majority at Tuesday’s meeting, the proposed FY’19 tax rate increase–this year, a 1.51% increase–represents a total town FY’19 budget of $127,563,331. (For a detailed look at how the budget was set, read our prior coverage.) That breaks down as follows: TOTAL Board of Selectmen (operating and capital): $33,510,999 (0.88% increase over FY’18) and Board of Education budget: $81,876,563 (1.62% increase over FY’18).
The main budget question on the ballot will read as follows, and voters will have only three options from which to choose:
Shall the budget and tax rate for the Fiscal Year 2019, as recommended by the Board of Finance, or as amended by the Town Meeting, be:
- REJECTED BECAUSE IT IS TOO HIGH
- REJECTED BECAUSE IT IS TOO LOW
The three proposed bonded capital projects–the larger projects Wilton would need to borrow money for to be able to do–are separate questions on the ballot, for voters to either approve (vote yes) or not (vote no).
- Year two of a five-year road restoration project (road paving): $3,000,000
- Replacing the 10-plus year old crumb rubber turf at Lilly Stadium with a new coconut husk turf (plus shock padding): $700,000
- Repaving and installing lighting at the Bus Barn: $400,000
There are no other questions on the ballot.
If fewer than 15% of eligible voters turn out to vote, the budget will automatically pass—no matter the outcome of the actual vote. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to stay away from the polls because “not voting is like saying you think the budget should pass.” It’s never a guarantee.
Look at what happened in 2015, when the majority of those who voted cast a “No, Too High” vote, but the budget passed as originally proposed because only 11.5% of eligible voters actually voted. In 2016 there was an 18% voter turnout, but a lot of that was likely driven by a bonding question about a turf field–and a big push from sports booster groups to get voters in support to the polls.
If the budget is rejected as either too high or too low, the budget then returns to the Board of Finance which will consult with the members of the BoS and BoE and come back to the Town Meeting with a revised budget. The only options then will be ‘approve’ or ‘reduce’; it cannot be rejected outright.
If you can’t make it Saturday, you can vote by absentee ballot, which are available in the town clerk’s office, 238 Danbury Rd., between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.–your last chance to do so would be today, Friday, May 4. Completed absentee ballots must be returned to the town clerk’s office no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 5.