Wilton’s $13.1 million bond sale will be used to finance construction of new police headquarters

WILTON — The town obtained favorable rates in its recent $13.1 million bond sale that will primarily provide financing for the new police headquarters project, according to town CFO Dawn Norton.

In the May 16 bond sale, the town yielded competitive interest rates on the strength of Moody’s reaffirmation of Wilton’s rating of Aaa, which is the highest rating available, Norton said in a statement.

The town received 11 bids from various underwriting firms with the winning bid of 3.19 percent from Robert Baird Inc., she said.

The town’s policy of using a combination of 10- and 20-year bonds meant the winning True Interest Cost of 3.19 percent was lower than all recent Aaa bond sales, including Westport at 3.34 percent, Farmington at 3.27 percent, New Fairfield a 3.36 percent, Newtown at 3.45 percent and Darien’s 28-year issue at 3.67 percent, the statement said.

The town is preparing to break ground this spring on the $16.4 million project to build a new police headquarters, officials said. Construction expected to take about 20 months, officials said.

In the 2022 annual town meeting, voters approved the construction of a new 19,000-square-foot headquarters with 77 percent of the vote. It will be nearly twice the size of the town’s current police station.

The new police facility, which will be built on an 11.17-acre site at 238-240 Danbury Road, was approved, with conditions, on Feb. 27 by Wilton’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

At a recent P&Z Commission meeting, the floor plans, site improvements and architectural drawings were presented by Rebecca Hopkins of Tecton Architects. Joe Lenahan of Fuss and O’Neill, the project’s engineers, explained how use of the new building would be phased in, with police occupying the new building before the old building was razed.

During that meeting, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said the new headquarters has been more than six years in the making.

The current two-story station was built in 1974 for a 25-member all-male force.

“Since the station was built, the size of the department has almost doubled, leading to overcrowding and a loss of operational and functional space,” according to the 236-page special permit application submitted to the P&Z.

Police Chief Thomas Conlan said the department now has 48 employees — 45 officers and three civilian staff — including eight women.

The new building “will bring the department up to current policing and building code standards,” he said previously.

This $13.1 million bond sale “generated robust interest from various underwriting firms even with the uncertainty of the federal debt limit,” said Barry Bernabe, managing director at Phoenix Advisors and Wilton’s municipal adviser.

Moody’s Investors Service recently reaffirmed Wilton’s Aaa rating, citing the town’s “stable local economy, supported by an exceptionally strong residential market and high resident incomes. The rating additionally reflects the town’s low leverage and fixed costs … and moderate reserves and liquidity.”

Moody’s also noted, “the town’s government operations are managed by certified and experienced professionals who are responsible for implementing policy objectives. This, plus a combination of a strong statewide institutional framework and conservative budgeting, has allowed for strong and stable financial operations.”

The town has an opportunity to complete a refunding bond issue that may save nearly $750,000 depending on interest rates in the next several weeks, Norton said.

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