Wilton struggles with revenue shortfall for coming year

  • The town of Wilton will be partnering with the University of New Hampshire's Cooperative Extension to create an action plan for the town's economic development. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/10/2021 4:59:31 PM

Revenue is expected to be down sharply in the coming year for Wilton, and several cuts were made to the proposed budget to offset those shortfalls.

The total proposed budget is $5.3 million.

Revenues are estimated to be down as much as 26 percent for the town in the coming year, Budget Committee Chair Cary Hughes said Wednesday. The town Budget Committee has attempted to close the gap by cutting the department head’s original requests by about 11 percent, but the town still expects to see an overall increase in what will have to be raised by taxes in the coming year.

“When the dust settled, it’s about a 2 percent difference,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the main concern of the Budget Committee was keeping the budget down without making any single cut so onerous that it could not be sustainable.

“The department heads felt they could make these changes without negatively impacting the services. That was a concern of the budget committee as well. The citizens expect and deserve these services,” Hughes said.

The budget committee has recommended all proposed articles, including the budget, bar one.

There are two articles put forth this year on the same subject – the repair of the Old County Farm Road Bridge over Mill Brook. The articles present different methods for the repair, with the intent that the voters select which option they prefer during Town Meeting.

The first article would require a total of $225,000 – $70,389 from the previous year’s unexpended highway block grand funds, and $154,611 from taxation. This is the option the Budget Committee selected not to support, Hughes said.

The board did support the alternative article, however, which is for the same amount – $225,000 – and still uses the left-over block grant funds, but instead of the remainder coming from taxation, the remaining cost would be split between taxes and the Bridge Capital Reserve Fund.

“There is no question the bridge needs the repairs, it’s just how it’s going to be paid for,” Hughes said.

The town intends to make several capital purchases of vehicles for town departments this year, or continue payment on leases on its existing equipment.

The Fire Department has made several vehicle purchase requests. If approved, the town would enter a 10-year lease agreement for a $650,000 fire engine, which would replace the town’s Engine 1. The first lease payment, which would have to be raised this year, is $75,000. 

The Fire Department is also requesting purchase of two other vehicles – a forestry truck, for $100,000, which would replace the current forestry truck. The funds would come totally from a capital reserve established for that purpose.

The department is also requesting to use reserve funds to purchase a $55,000 command vehicle for the fire chief, which was established as a full-time position last year.

The town is requesting the following funds for future capital purchases, to be placed into capital reserve accounts: $75,00 for the Public Works Garage, $70,000 for Highway Equipment, $50,000 for the Town Hall Heating Reserve, and $15,000 for the Fire Department Air Packs Reserve.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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