WILTON — The Wilton Select Board and Finance Committee have approved respective budgets to be voted on at the 2022 Town Meeting Monday, June 20.

Wilton Select Board is recommending a $2.45 million budget – a $192,611 (8.5%) increase over the 2021-22 budget. The Finance Committee’s recommendation is $2.49 million budget – $226,212 (10%) more than the current budget.

Before taking into account revenues and other funding sources, the Select Board and Finance Committee recommended $4.32 million and $4.35 million expenditure budgets, respectively.

Both recommended budgets are around $200,000 less than originally requested or proposed by town departments and employees.

The biggest increases are seen in spending categories for the Planning Board, contingency and legal, Pensions and Benefits Capital Reserve, Highway Department, cemeteries, funding for Western Maine Transportation, Recreation Department and events (including the Blueberry Festival).

Town Manager Rhonda Irish said the majority of increases to the budget are due to higher costs of living and increased wages for town employees across all departments.

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The two boards are proposing an increase to the Planning Board budget to increase the hours of Code Enforcement Officer Charlie Lavin.

The Finance Committee is recommending an $82,201 budget – an increase of $57,701 (236%) – that would offer the code enforcement officer full-time hours with benefits. The Select Board is suggesting $49,200 to cover a 30 hour work week without benefits for Lavin – up from the 15 hours a week he currently works.

Both boards are suggesting a $98,859 (16.8%) increase to the Wilton Police Department’s budget – bringing that figure to $688,410.

Irish said the increase covers training three new police officers. When they go to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy for 16 weeks Irish said the town still has to pay their salaries and benefits while also paying officers to work overtime or on demand to fill gaps.

Per recommendations from both boards, the cemeteries budget would increase by $18,824 (36.8%) to $70,024 to cover the addition of two part time employees. However, all $70,024 will be funded by Cemetery Trust Account.

The boards are also recommending $13,000 be directed toward the town’s events expenditure category – $10,000 (333.33%) more than the 2021 budget. Irish said this would help fund various events in town such as Halloween and Christmastime festivities, a summer barbecue and the Blueberry Festival (now in the hands of the town following Blueberry Festival Committee Chairman Shannon Smith’s 2021 resignation).

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The town’s contributions to Western Maine Transportation would increase from $3,400 to $7,670 (125.6%) per WMT’s request. This increase will account for higher costs of operation.

In total, the boards are recommending $27,399 in contributions to 10 local nonprofits. They began doing this after Franklin County Commissioners stopped directing funds from the county budget to nonprofits. Wilton is among a group of other towns helping to fund the nonprofits to fill that gap.

The boards are also suggesting:

• A $2,000 (11.8%) increase to contingency and legal budget to account for increased use of legal counsel.

• A $30,500 (305%) increase to the Pensions and Benefits Capital Reserve budget to cover the payouts of town employees planning to retire this next year.

• A $94,700 (9.6 %) increase to the Highway Department budget for a total $1.08 million budget to cover higher wages.

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Capital paving spending is decreasing by $110,000 (-22.9%) to $481,000 following the completion of certain roadwork projects across town. It is, however, $161,000 higher than the 20-21 budget.

The increase from 20-21 was to improve the quality of roads across town amid increasing costs of materials, Irish explained.

“Roads [improvements] are never ending,” Irish said.

Some of this year’s paving will be covered by funds from the Unassigned Fund Balance.

The Select Board and Finance Committee differed in only two expenditure categories including the Select Board’s budget.

The town originally proposed a $9,600 budget for the Select Board to raise the stipends for the selectpersons to $1,900 a year and the chair to $2,000 a year. The Finance Committee recommended the town’s proposal.

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Irish said that in her 13 years as town manager, she’s never seen selectperson stipends increase.

They put in a lot of time on both the select board and in other committees, areas of town government, she said. She added this increase only amounts to around $2 more for each of the approximate 50 meetings they might attend each year.

To keep the cost to taxpayers down, the town would draw funds from the Unassigned Fund Balance, Tax Increment Financing, Cemetery Trust Account and revenues. This will be voted on in different warrant articles, Irish said.

Though the boards are recommending these figures, voters will have the opportunity at Town Meeting to suggest and approve different figures. Voters did not do so at the 2021 Town Meeting, held outdoors, due to an impending rainstorm.

The Wilton Town Meeting will be held Monday, June 20, 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Academy Hill School.

Voters will also head to the polls at the Wilton Town Office Tuesday, June 14, for state elections and the local elections for two selectpersons and a seat on the Regional School Unit 9 Board of Directors.


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