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Wilton Keeps Budget Process Open All Season Long

WILTON, Conn. – When a town's budget is cut, someone is bound to be unhappy. But in Wilton, the opportunity to see every step in the process makes it easier to understand.

The process essentially takes all year. But January is when the Board of Selectmen receives packets with each town department's spending request. The finance department collects the packets to mark the start of budget season, which doesn’t end until the final townwide vote in May.

The Town Charter dictates the long timeline, said town Chief Financial Officer Sandy Dennies. The only way to change the timeline is to alter the charter.

“We tried,” Board of Finance Chairman Warren Serenbetz said of changing the charter. When Wilton’s Charter Commission was working in 2009, Serenbetz said changing the timeline was discussed. But it wasn’t an option when it came time to vote.

The length of time it takes to pass the budget doesn’t bother Steve Hudspeth, who has lived in Wilton for the past 25 years. In fact, he thinks it’s a way to show transparency.

He had been a part of a state legislature task force on municipal ethics, he said. “The degree of distrust in some towns floored me because I’m so used to Wilton.”

Wilton, Hudspeth said, is a town where people talk to one another, among the Board of Finance, Board of Selectmen and Board Education as well as the public. This allows for a significant amount of transparency, he said.

Even with the many public meetings and availability of budgets online, some people aren’t satisfied. At Monday’s Board of Education hearing, resident Milton Pohl said the presentations for the public hearings should be available before the meetings.

The presentation made by First Selectman Bill Brennan on Tuesday was available online and in printed form at the meeting.

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