WILTON – Members of the Wilton Selectboard and the Finance Committee met for an informational session to discuss proposed budgets for the 2021/2022 fiscal year; members heard from several department heads regarding possible financial changes to their accounts. The majority of the accounts remained predominantly the same, with a few exceptions that came as a result of COVID-19 effects.
“I think the employee compensations is where we’re seeing the most change, and that’s understandable, considering the circumstances,” said Finance Committee member Gwen Doak.
In addition to the employee compensation increases across several different departments, the Public Works budget was dramatically affected by COVID. The proposal was in response to some of the road paving delays that came about due to the pandemic and abiding by social distancing guidelines.
The proposed budget for capital paving saw a nearly $300,000 increase from last year’s budget to account for these road costs. Department Head John Masse is proposing utilizing $200,000 from the Undesignated Fund Balance.
“We’re trying to catch up on some of the smaller roads,” Masse said.
The increased cost will also account for the upcoming sidewalk project on Weld Road.
The Parks and Recreation department is proposing a budget of $92,359, with a $2,000 increase from last year’s budget. Department Head Frank Donald said that the only real uncertainty regarding costs for this year are related to the annual swim program, which was cancelled last year due to COVID.
“My gut says we probably won’t have one, but if we do, it will be different. The Red Cross is recommending that instructors not get in the water at all,” said Donald.
This stipulation would limit the kinds of lessons the town could offer, he said.
Town Manager Rhonda Irish proposed the addition of a new account, a Pension and Benefits Account, which would address payouts for employees who leave their positions. She proposed $20,500 to be distributed across several departments.
Chief Heidi Wilcox proposed the changes to the upcoming Police Department’s budget, including an increase to cover new uniforms that were suitable for the new body cameras for officers. Though this consideration, along with the increase in vehicle prices and employee compensations, brings the proposed budget up to $589,551, Chief Wilcox considers these cameras an “invaluable tool.”
There was an increase of approximately $2,000 for the social services budget on account of Community Concepts requesting extra funds to help with their programs. Ruby Bean presented the explanation, reminding attending members that Community Concepts “doesn’t just serve the individual, but entire families.” The organization serves children through the Head Start program, and families thought parent-education classes and fuel services. The requested contribution would help to cover some of the costs that are not allowed by federal funds.
The Wilton Finance Committee and the Wilton Selectboard will be meeting again on April 12 to discuss and vote on finalized budgets.