Wilton Chief of Police Ethan Keyes, left, stands before selectpersons Feb. 7 as they discuss how money intended for a new sign was approved for new security and gym equipment. Brian Ponce/Franklin Jounral

WILTON — The Board of Selectpersons held a discussion at the board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, over the misuse of American Rescue Plan Act money funds by the police and fire department.

Police Chief Ethan Keyes and Fire Chief Sonny Dunham stood before the select board to share their account of the spending of $30,000 in federal funds that was originally allocated toward getting a new sign for the building at 874 Main St. in Wilton.

“We never knew for a long time that we had got slated for $30,000 for a sign,” Dunham told the board.

Dunham and Keyes began talks about tightening up security in the building with Town Manager Perry Ellsworth when he came aboard in August 2022.

“We have so many police officers and firefighters that have come and gone,” Dunham said. “The keys are out there. Never could get keys back.”

Keyes also wanted to add new surveillance cameras to the building to secure the location better.


“I just gave suggestions of what I thought would be better for the Police Department,” Keyes said. “We can’t see half a parking lot, can’t see the secretary. So, if someone comes in, they’re disgruntled or whatnot,” he said, he has no idea what’s happening because he’s on the other side of the building.

On top of better security, gym equipment was also approved. In total, Ellsworth approved $22,067.44 for equipment for the Police and Fire departments.

According to Chairperson David Leavitt, previous Town Manager Rhonda Irish brought the suggestion of the sign to the board and it was approved for $30,000 from the town’s allotment of the American Rescue Plan Act.

“Any spending,” Leavitt stated, “has always come to the Select Board for approval. He said the board was not saying the items aren’t good and necessary, but grants have always been at the approval of the Select Board.

Board members Mike Wells and Tiffany Mauri agreed the board believes the items approved and purchased are necessary, but bypassing the board is the issue.

“We thought at that time, everything was taken care of,” Dunham said. “The $30,000 was approved. I thought it was already gone by you guys.”

Items that were purchased and paid for include a smoke machine for $3,255, exercise equipment for $4,156.25, lumber  for $3,704 and a rowing machine for $734.52]. Items approved but have not been purchased include door monitors and chimes for $250, 16 surveillance cameras for $3,500, and proximity card lock systems for $6,467.67.

According to Ellsworth, because of the changes in the allocation of the money, it must go to voters at the town meeting in the spring.

In the meantime, Ellsworth told both departments to cease spending the money until a reallocation is approved.

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