Wilton residents seeking more transparency with agendas

WILTON – Deb Mortvedt said she was not accusing the selectmen of trying to hide anything, but said the order of items on the meeting agenda, and how they are listed, could give that appearance. She brought her concerns to the board on Jan. 8. She had raised the questions during the public comment portion at the meeting on Jan. 2.

Why, she asked, did the board frequently schedule a non-public session in the middle of the meeting? While people attending could wait and come back later, many did not. The “discussion items” were generally held toward the end of the meeting, following the non-public session

And, she asked, why are old and new business, not itemized? That would make it much easier for residents to know what was being talked about.

Chairman Bill Condra said non-public sessions were scheduled “at the discretion of the board, and sometimes they did not have much choice,” if that was the only time the applicant could come. “We try to schedule them after the major body of the agenda.”

Asked what was discussed in non-public, Selectman Kermit Williams said the statutes limit what can be talked about, but mainly concerns peoples’ reputations and personnel issues.

Condra added, “People who are having difficulties and want to talk about their tax bill.”

Mortvedt, who is a member of the Heritage Commission, said she had been doing some research at the Historical Society and had read accounts from years ago. This was not a new thing.

Williams agreed that some agenda lines such as “Town Administrators repot, “Old and new business,” could be more detailed. “Perhaps we have been remiss in putting old and new business on one line.”

Old business, Condra explained, was “any item that has come up at a previous meeting. If it has come up before, we can take action on it.”

New business, he said, is any topic that has not been discussed before and had not been an agenda item. By statute, they cannot take any action on those items.

Selectman Kellie-Sue Boissonnault said the Town Administrator’s report should “have bullets,” listing the main items he would address.

Condra said they would take the comments under advisement, “and try to do better.”

Resident Tracey Ewing asked about topics that come up under “public comment. Is there a statute that says you can’t act on any of those?”

Condra said there was. “We can put those topics on the agenda for the next meeting.”

Mortvedt said she appreciated their comments, and “would just like a little more transparency.”