Candidate profiles: Wilton Select Board

Richard Swanson

Occupation: Director of Development, Historical Society of Cheshire County

Time living in town: three years

Previously elected offices: Elected to two four-year terms on the City Council of Flagstaff, Ariz.

Other qualifications: Served the past two years on the Wilton Budget Committee; grew up in Nashua; graduate of Dartmouth College

What are two issues you feel are important and how do you plan to address them?

My wife and I own a house in Wilton and we are very concerned about the high burden we have to pay in property taxes. Wilton’s current tax rate comes to over $6,000 on a $250,000 house, so I think the Selectmen need to be very careful about raising taxes any higher. I don’t think budget cuts should be carried on the backs of town employees. Wilton employees should be able to make a living wage. I think we should watch our expenses very closely and ask ourselves whether each expense is a good investment. I would be interested in looking at the feasibility of giving seniors a lower property tax rate if their incomes are below a certain level. I can imagine what it would be like to finally pay off your house only to find out when you retire that you couldn’t afford your tax bill on a fixed income.

I recently toured the fire station with Fire Chief Raymond Dick. I don’t see how we can avoid investing in an addition/remodel for the fire station. The proposed plans are reasonable in scope; we are not talking about fancy frills here. The project involves necessary improvements to meet basic health and safety requirements, provide more space for fire engines, and comply with codes and regulatory mandates. I am on record in support of the bond for the fire station. There was some debate on the budget committee about whether to bond for the full amount or whether to bond for a portion of it and use capital reserve funds. I voted in favor of using the reserve funds because it could save homeowners about $50 per year on their property tax bills.

James A. Tuttle

Occupation: Retired

Time living in town: 63 years

Previously elected offices: Road Agent 1973-1975, Water Commissioner 1977 to present, Sewer Commissioner 2006 to present

Other qualifications: ZBA 1992 to present; Wilton Fire Dept 25 years, retired as captain; Emergency Facilities Committee 2008 to present; Trustee of 2nd Congregational Church; member of Clinton Lodge # 52

What are two issues you feel are important and how do you plan to address them?

Two issues that I feel are important are the renovations to the Fire Station and controlling taxes.

The Fire Station renovations, including the additional bays for equipment, are long overdue, however, I feel the proposal being presented at Town Meeting is much more building than we need and much more money than we need to spend. The garage section of the station needs to be expanded to accommodate the large trucks we own now and future truck purchases. The renovations of the original building are necessary due to health risks from asbestos and other building materials used in the 1950’s when the station was built. Some of the proposed addition does not reflect an organized or effective use of space. We are a small town and financially cannot maintain a full time department which this plan is designed to support.

There are many challenges ahead that need to be addressed in the best interests of the Town including drainage, Recycling Center, Highway Department Equipment, road improvements and resurfacing, dam repairs, and Red Listed Bridges. These are all costly projects and will require a lot of attention to ensure we are spending tax-payers money wisely.

The Select Board should operate with a high degree of transparency to reflect the townspeople’s wishes.

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