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Wilton Residents Gather to Vote on Town Budget

WILTON, Conn. – Young and old as well as town residents and town employees gathered at the Wilton High School Clune Center on Tuesday night for the Annual Town Meeting to discuss the 2013 budget.

For Madeleine Ball, who turned 18 in March, the Town Meeting is the first time she gets to vote. And she’s not just voting — she is helping the registrars as an election official. Ball, a senior at Wooster School in Danbury, said she may not know too much about the issues but thinks having a town meeting is great.

“It shows we’re a small town and value each other’s opinions,” Ball said. “You just don’t see something like this anywhere else.”

The questions that followed the presentations by First Selectman Bill Brennan, Board of Finance Chairman Warren Serenbetz and Board of Education Chairman Bruce Likly also reflected the unique quality of Wilton’s town meeting.

Many of the concerns raised involve the capital bonding projects, particularly $8.5 million to repave Wilton’s 127 miles of road.

Ed Papp, a resident since 1980, handed out an analysis that compared bonding the road project with taking a trip to Paris while paying the electric bill with a credit card.

Several residents who spoke at the meeting agreed that the bonding was a bad idea. “I do not see that it is prudent to bond this project because the interest rates are lower,” said Marilyn Gould. She said it is an ongoing yearly project that should remain in the regular operating budget.

Many of the assembled residents also thanked the boards and departments for their hard work in balancing the budgets and keeping the mill rate increase below 1 percent.

On the Board of Education budget, “there are no places to cut that have not already been addressed,” said Steve Hudspeth. He said he fully supported all of the boards and that “they are all to be deeply and heartily congratulated by all of us.”

By the end of the night, many of the 200 residents who had come to the meeting had left. But Louise Herot had one final thing to say about the process.

“I’m so impressed with our town meeting. The arguments on both sides were well thought out and articulated,” Herot said.

Didn’t make it to Tuesday’s meeting? Voting booths will be open again from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 5, in the lobby of the Clune Center at Wilton High School. 

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