WILTON — Residents at the annual Town Meeting Monday night will be asked to raise about $35,000 more than they did last year.

A request for added money to help pay debt on a $4.7 million project upgrading the town’s wastewater treatment system is responsible for a majority of the increase. Town officials are asking residents to raise $30,000 to reduce the debt burden tied to that project, which was approved last year.

If the added sewer debt funding is approved, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an added $11 in property taxes in the coming year, according to Clayton Putnam, superintendent for the town Water and Sewer Department.

The owner of a $100,000 home pays $1,460 in property taxes.

Without the added money for the sewer project debt, Town Manager Rhonda Irish said there shouldn’t be a significant change in the tax rate, at $14.60 per $1,000 of property valuation.

Putnam said the added sewer debt funding would reduce the burden on sewer customers, who are already slated to see a spike in their annual sewer bills because of the upgrade project.

Although some properties are not hooked into the municipal sewer system, Putnam said they are benefiting from the upgrade project that adds value to and attracts economic development opportunities to the community.

He said, if the added $30,000 is approved, these properties outside the sewer system would essentially be helping to pay their share for the system upgrades. Putnam plans to make a presentation about the request at the meeting at Academy Hill School at 6:30 p.m. There will be a community barbecue beforehand starting at 5:30 p.m.

Without the added sewer project money, the proposed $2.86 million budget increases town spending by about $25,000 from the current one.

Nearly all of that increase, however, will be offset by spending down the town’s surplus fund. If the budget proposal passes, that fund would have about $1.1 million left and remain within levels suggested by outside auditors to handle a municipal emergency, Irish said.

A majority of the budget articles maintain current spending levels, with minor offsetting fluctuations. The most significant change is a $35,800 increase for the police department, which would jump to $440,550.

The department is seeking the increase to pay for spikes in fuel cost, an improved vehicle maintenance plan and to help buy a new cruiser.

Residents will also be asked at Monday’s meeting to approve a $4.8 million project to finish the upgrades needed for the wastewater treatment system.

Last year, they approved the first phase of the project that is tied to the request for the added money to reduce the debt burden. To pay for that initial $4.7 million project, the town’s 944 sewer customers are already slated to pay an added $213 per year over the next 30 years on their sewer bills.

Putnam said the added $30,000, if approved, would reduce that annual debt payment by about $31 per sewer customer.

If the new upgrade project is approved, these same town sewer customers would have to pay an added $177 per year for 30 years on their sewer bills to pay off debt on that project.

If the new upgrade project and added funding to reduce the initial project’s annual debt cost both get approved Monday, the town’s sewer customers will be paying an added $359 per year for 30 years on their sewer bills.

Town officials have said the two upgrade projects are necessary because the state Department of Environmental Protection has warned the town it would face more costly mandated upgrades if the aging system fails.

Wilton’s last sewer rate increase as in 1987 and state officials have said the aging system is a threat to dump raw sewage into nearby streams and Wilson Lake. Federal and state government low-interest loans and grants are helping to pay for the initial project. Similar grant and loan packages have also been approved for the final phase to be considered Monday.

David F. Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]


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