30 articles on Wilton Town Meeting ballot

WILTON – This year’s town meeting promises to be a long one with 30 articles to be decided on March 15. The traditional meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Florence Rideout Elementary School gym.

Selectmen decided to change the usual order of articles this year. Those considered controversial, or apt to prompt a lot of discussion, have been placed at the beginning, right after discussion of the budget. The budget totals $6,057,619.

Those topics include a petition resolution to ban gas pipeline expansion or construction in town; a petition to raise $20,000 for the development of the New Reservoir as a public recreation area; establish a new capital reserve fund ($100,000) for the repair, maintenance or demolition of the New Reservoir Dam; and to allow KENO within the town.

After considerable debate, officials have decided that leasing new vehicles is cheaper and more efficient than purchase.

Proposed leases include a police cruiser, ($8,942 for the first payment); and a new dump truck ($35,000).

Five articles are concerned with the ambulance service.

The Ambulance Capital Reserve Fund established in 1984 (current balance $63,354) would be discontinued and the balance moved to the general fund. That amount would then be added to the Ambulance Service Revolving Fund.

Selectmen ask voters to enter into a seven-year lease for a new ambulance, $222,763, with the first payment of $31,824, to come from the revolving fund. The new ambulance is out of the usual replacement sequence because of mechanical problems with the current vehicle.

They also ask to enter into a five-year lease of two cardiac monitors, $86,295, with the first payment of $17,259 to come from the revolving fund.

Selectman Kermit Williams, in answer to questions at the Public Budget hearing on Feb. 15, said leasing is cheaper and the equipment can be purchased at the end of the lease. With the ambulance funded by three towns, the lease eliminates the need for annual warrant articles. Also, under a lease, the equipment will be maintained by the lease holder, including any technical upgrades to the cardiac monitors.

Article 20 authorizes the selectmen to remove $9,000 from the Florence Wheeler Fund to purchase radios and pagers for the ambulance service.

Article 21 combines the offices of town clerk and tax collector into one office with a three-year term. One person has held both offices for many years.

Two new capital reserve funds are asked: Fire Department Air Packs Fund with $50,000, and a Town Hall Fire Protection Fund with $34,000.

Article 23 asks for $50,000 for turn out gear for the fire department.

Articles 24 and 25 are from the Economic Development Committee: $14,770 for “Welcome to Wilton” signs and way-finding signs in the downtown area, and $13,500 for the design, options for the next phase of Riverwalk, plus a feasibility plan for a foot bridge across Stoney Brook.

Article 26 asks for $30,000 for document scanning and imaging services, to digitize as many town records as possible to reduce storage requirements.

There are four requests for additions to existing capital reserve funds: Bridges ($56,000); Public Works Garage ($75,000); Fire Department Vehicle and Equipment, ($100,000); and Town Hall heating System ($70,000).

Article 32 asks that the Cooley Park Improvement Project Capital Reserve Fund be discontinued and the fund balance, $86,662 plus any interest, be added to the general fund.

Other articles authorize the Trustees of the Trust Funds to pay for capital reserve fund investment services, and to allow selectmen to acquire and sell land or buildings, after review by the Planning Board and Conservation Commission.