“Oops, I forgot to pay my mortgage. Oh well, I’ll just pay it next month.”
“Shucks, I didn’t register for any classes this semester. I’ll just go where they tell me, even if the classes they give me have nothing to do with my major.”
“Gee, I didn’t look up the address for my interview in the city. Well, I’ll just point the car south and let’s see if I can figure it out. Whatever.”
Can’t imagine those words above ever coming out of your mouth? Trust yourself enough to be more responsible than to allow any of those situations above to happen to you?
Well, try this one on for size and ask yourself—Would I ever say this:
"Shoot, I forgot to vote on Wilton’s annual budget at this year’s Town Meeting. Oh well, I’ll just pay whatever taxes they tell me to pay, and I can just blame someone else. No biggie. My child will have 25 other kids in class next year? That’s a shame, but nothing I could have done about it. Yeah, I guess it will be okay to keep driving around those huge potholes on my street for another few years, how bad can it get, right?"
Wrong. There is something you can do about it. Because it can get worse, on so many different levels. That is, unless you come out to vote on Wilton’s FY ’13 town budget, either tomorrow, Tuesday May 1 after the town meeting (which begins at 7:30 pm) or Saturday, May 5, 8 am – 6 pm. The meeting and voting will be held at the Wilton High School, in the Clune Center Auditorium.
The town’s Board of Finance has proposed a budget for next year that increases Wilton’s mill rate by 0.986%, from a mill rate of 20.085 to 21.055. The budget is comprised of spending requests from the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Education, each of whom have increased their budgets 1.75 percent over the previous year. The BoE budget is $75,051,216 and the BoS budget is $30,347,323.
Voting to support the proposed town budget tells town officials that you approve of paying increased taxes to fund next year’s budget. Voting against it sends the message that you do not want to pay such an increase.
I would think that question alone is important enough to get you to the polls—if you care how much you pay in taxes to Wilton and the quality of services the town provides using those tax dollars. But if you want to leave that choice up to others, by all means, stay away from the polls.
"But wait," you say. "Doesn’t the budget always pass? Isn’t not-voting the same thing as a vote supporting the budget? I thought I only had to go if I wanted to vote No."
Mmm, sorry, not so true. Sure, if fewer than 15 percent of the town casts their votes, then the budget automatically passes. But if 15 percent or more of eligible voters do show up to vote, and more of those voters want to defeat the budget because they think it’s ‘too high,’ it won’t pass. , the for-vs.-against vote was closer than ever. That makes some supporters of this year’s proposed budget more worried than ever too.
But wait, there’s more! This year there are six—count ‘em, six!—bond resolutions up for consideration, for a total of $9,585,800. They cover road paving, a new fire truck, repairs to several Wilton Schools, renovations and a generator for Comstock Community Center, renovations to the Raymond Ambler House at Ambler Farm, and construction of a fiber optic data link network.
These are all crucial questions that need your votes—especially because there is no minimum turnout percentage rule on bonding questions. They pass or fail strictly on the exact vote count, no matter how many people show up to vote.
For me, you can probably guess where I stand on most of the questions and the budget in general. I hope the budget as proposed by the BoF passes. I hope the town votes yes to approve the capital spending request to make the much-needed repairs on the schools. I think the paving question is a no-brainer: Wilton needs to repair its roadway infrastructure before the damage becomes much more cost-prohibitive, and with interest rates as low as they are, bonding is the way to go on such an expensive project ($3,329,800).
Almost all the other bond proposals make sense to me too, although I’m not quite sure about the fiber network question. I am definitely all for bringing Wilton into the 21st century, even if our (not-so) ‘semi-rural village’ likely resists it kicking and screaming, especially if it helps attract more business and beefs up our tax base. But there seems to be too much disagreement and too many unresolved questions for me to wholeheartedly support it. Our selectmen have put a lot of effort into researching and promoting it, and I’m conflicted about not giving them my support on the issue. But not enough agreement makes it less of a sure thing vote on it for me.
I wish I could tell you that there was an alcohol-related resolution on the ballot this year, only because questions on booze tend to spur higher turnout at the meeting and polls. Sadly, it’s not the case this year, so I hope you’ll still be motivated to attend the meeting and vote afterward on Tuesday night, or at least come to just vote on Saturday.
Sure, there are always the usual excuses that Wiltonians fall back on to not vote—Little League baseball games, lacrosse games, Communion, ballet recitals, beach weather, yard work, pre-summer sales at the mall, or plain old “I forgot.” Residents historically don’t come out in droves on any election day, and I think I coined a phrase about it when
Because as easy as it would be to blame whatever results come out of the vote on someone else, you really would have no one else to blame—or to thank—than yourself.