Wilmington’s officials have begun a process to choose projects to use the funds on, and while they have a structure in place to manage and distribute the money, no one is certain it will serve the town well in the long run.
As we reported in last week’s edition the Wilmington Selectboard is considering proposals on what to do with the 1% sales tax funds now being generated in the community. A number of ideas were thrown out: walking tours of the village; Wi-Fi in the village center; improvements to the historical society property; improvements to village merchants’ buildings; fixing the railings on the bridge in the center of the village; and others as well. All of them are projects that would seem to have merit. And we’re sure there will be many more.
As it turns out, on Wednesday the board approved funding to two of those items: the village walking tours and the Wi-Fi installation. The process was smooth and the proposals were well presented. (See page 2.)
But what happens when there are four or five proposals competing for the limited funds? Will the board be able to say no to any of them? Will there be hard feelings if someone does get turned down?
Sound familiar? It should. It’s similar to where Dover was five years ago, when the income from that town’s sales tax was just beginning to flow in. When it comes to managing the 1% money, Dover offers a number of examples as to how to handle things, some good, some not so good.
But that’s the point, here’s a town right next door that has gone through many of the same growing pains Wilmington is just starting to experience. Officials in Wilmington, the business community, and the general population would be wise to take a look at the systems Dover already has in place. Some may be appropriate, some may not be.
For example, one of the things suggested for Wilmington is to use some of the funds for building improvement in the village. Dover already has a program in place, and Wilmington could probably put a similar one in place without too much effort. Same for Dover’s advertising support program.
Don’t get us wrong, we have been a supporter of the funds in both towns, and we believe Wilmington is certainly trending in the right direction. We’re just offering some advice that may help Wilmington avoid some of the pitfalls Dover went though in the infant stages of its use of the option tax.
In the end, everyone wants things to work smoothly. That’s why a little copy cat action by Wilmington might be the best thing for all involved.