Wilton Chief of Police Ethan Keyes (left) stands before the Wilton Board of Selectpersons on Tuesday, Feb. 7, as they discuss how funds that were originally set for a new sign were instead approved for new security and gym equipment. Brian Ponce/Franklin Jounral

WILTON — The Wilton Board of Selectpersons held a discussion at the board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, over the misuse of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds by the police and fire department.

Wilton Chief of Police Ethan Keyes and Fire Chief Sonny Dunham stood before the select board to share their account of the spending of $30,000 in ARPA funds that was originally allocated towards getting a new sign for the building at 874 Main St. in Wilton.

“We never knew for a long time that we had got slated for $30,000 for a sign,” Dunham told the board.

Dunham and Keyes began talks about tightening up security in the building with town manager Perry Ellsworth when he came aboard in August of last year.

“We have so many police officers and firefighters that have come and gone,” Dunham stated. “The keys are out there. Never could get (those) keys back.”

Keyes also wanted to add new surveillance cameras to the building to secure the location better.


“I just gave suggestions of what I thought would be better for the police department,” Keyes said. “We can’t see half a parking lot, (we) can’t see the secretary. So, if someone comes in, they’re disgruntled or whatnot, (I have) no idea if that’s happening because I’m on the other side of the building.”

On top of better security, gym equipment was also approved. In total, Ellsworth approved $22,067.44 for equipment for police and fire department.

According to Chairperson David Leavitt, previous town manager Rhonda Irish brought the suggestion of the sign to the board and it was approved for the amount of $30,000 through ARPA funds.

“Any spending,” Leavitt stated, “has always come to the Select Board for approval. (We’re) not saying these items aren’t good and necessary, but grants have always been at the approval of the Select Board level.”

Board members Mike Wells and Tiffany Mauri shared the sentiment that while the board believes the items approved and purchased are indeed necessary, the bypassing of the process of having these items approved by the board was the issue at hand.

“We thought at that time, everything was taken care of,” Dunham stated. “The $30,000 was approved. I thought it was already gone by you guys.”

Items that were already purchased and paid for include a smoke machine ($3,255), exercise equipment ($4,156.25), lumber ($3,704) rowing machine ($734.52). Items that were approved, but have not been purchased include door monitors and chimes ($250), 16 surveillance cameras systems ($3,500), and proximity card lock systems ($6,467.67).

According to Perry Ellsworth, because of the changes in the allocation of the money, it must go before the town meeting in the spring to get approval from the voters. In the meantime, Ellsworth has told both departments to cease the spending of this fund until a meeting is had to approve the reallocation.

Comments are no longer available on this story