Cash: In addition to countless hours of staff time, more than $16,000 has been spent on a special attorney to answer questions. Another $50,000 was allocated by the Selectboard in 2019 to hire facilitators and consultants, including market research firm Kelliher Samets Volk (KSV).
Efforts: Results of that expenditure -- two surveys and several focus groups -- have been patently ignored by the governing boards. For example, the Trustees chose the least-popular representation model (hybrid) and ignored the most-popular (district), when drafting their version of the charter.
Opportunity Costs: While other towns work to address issues like economic development, climate change, and homelessness, Essex is re-directing a major portion of its government resources toward forcing its nested communities to "merge" their budgets -- in other words, shifting taxes from one part of town to another -- something we've tried to do unsuccessfully since 1958.
Benefits of new ideas
When will we have the courage to re-frame the issue? When will municipal staff and elected officials convene a group of knowledgeable residents to brainstorm alternatives that would resolve
(at last) all of the taxation, representation, access, identity, and transparency issues that dog us? (Merger only shifts tax.)
One creative solution offered in July 2019 by a Village business owner / TOV resident resolves those issues and more. It would allow the Village and TOV to share functions as desired, without brute-forcing all to merge. Ken Signorello's matrix "Separate-and-Share vs. Merger" is worth a peek.
Finance Director Sarah Macy has calculated the costs of separation, as of Sept. 28, 2020. She determined the costs to both parts of town, for either merger or separation are about 20% (up or down).
The difference from merger and the advantage of separating is that assets and control of those assets remain with one part of town, in many cases, rather than both. For example, the TOV would own and run the Essex Free Library, while the Village would own and run Brownell.
...What ideas do you have for resolving our nested-government conundrum?
cOSTS To study merger
The Merger Survey (Sept. / Oct. 2019) aimed to provide further input to the Town and Village governments' latest Merger Campaign.
Click to see Survey Questions.
Click to see Survey Results from 844 respondents (4% of total pop).
We understand that not every household with multiple members has multiple computers.
Directions for taking the survey more than once on a single PC:
Right click on the link to open the survey and select ...
For Chrome or Avast: "Open Link in Incognito Window"
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On a Mac with safari:
Hold down the OPTION key, and then Right-Click (or Control Click) on the link Choose “Open in New Private Window”
A total of 51 residents, selected by market research firm Kelliher Samets Volk from 80 applicants, met in 90-minute listening sessions held August 13-15, 2019.
Click to see a Summary of Focus Group comments.
The Future of Essex Survey (July 2019) aimed to provide input to the Town and Village governments' latest Merger Campaign, begun in Summer 2018 and expected to culminate in a vote in Nov. 2020.
Click to see Survey Questions.
Click to see Survey Results from 700 residents.