Wilton board hears update on high speed internet access

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WILTON – The Wilton selectboard met on the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 6. During the public comment section, Wilton resident Louise Hiltz expressed her wish for the town to take action about winter activity on Wilson Lake. She inquired about the possibility of enforcing requirements for going onto the frozen lake, suggesting a parallel to how people using boats in the summer must have floatation devices.

“We are unable to predict what kind of winters we will get in the coming years. With that in mind, I’d like to encourage the town to prepare for these unknowns,” she said.

Vice Chairman of the board Mike Wells suggested looking into the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and utilizing their resources. Chief of Police Ethan Kyes was present and offered to put Hiltz in contact with the local warden to discuss these issues.

Wells thanked Hiltz for her concern on the issue: “It’s better to be proactive than reactive.”

Wells introduced Brian Lippold from Casco Bay Advisors to give an update on the ongoing broadband expansion project.

“We’ve been at this for a number of years, actually,” Lippold said. “Trying to get high speed internet access to all of the residents of Wilton.”

The process began back in 2017 and the town has finally settled on Consolidated Communications’ Fidium product; it is currently being installed throughout the town. Consolidated Communications and Maine Connectivity Authority will jointly fund the remaining unserved areas of Wilton. “It’s not costing the town anything at this point,” Lippold said.

Wells thanked Lippold for his work on this project: “It’s going to be great to have all of Wilton connected.”

The board discussed a request to utilize the town’s Undesignated Fund received from the police department. The funds would cover the buyout of a Blue-Pin, a seasoned police officer. It would cost the town $36,666 to pay for the reimbursement for a new officer’s training that his last agency covered. The officer in question recently graduated from the academy, which is why the purchase is high.

Selectman Phil Hilton refused to make a motion to use the Undesignated Fund: “I’d like us to look elsewhere.” Town Manager Maria Greeley had done research to the meeting to see if the police department budget could accommodate the cost. “There is no room to make this type of a purchase,” she said. “We would be out of budget.”

Selectman David Leavitt suggested that the police department go over budget and the town can later decide how to pay for the purchase at the end of the fiscal year in June. ““It may end up being you run the undesignated fund,” he said, explaining his belief the possibility that the police budget might end up covering part of the purchase and the Undesignated Fund could go elsewhere. “You don’t need to do it today.”

Vice Chairman Wells agreed: “It doesn’t preclude the hiring, it just allows us to be more fiscally responsible.” The board chose not to make a motion to utilize the Undesignated Fund.

The board set a date for a Public Hearing to approve a few minor changes to the Parking and Traffic Ordinance. The meeting will take place on Feb. 20.

This meeting was recorded by Mt. Blue TV and is available for viewing online at MtBlueTV.org

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