Residents in the Town of Essex and the Village of Essex Junction may vote on the question of merging governments November 3, 2020. The Town of Essex and the Village of Essex Junction each has its own government and elected board with taxing authority. The Town of Essex Selectboard and the Village of Essex Junction Board of Trustees are exploring a potential merger of the governance of the two municipalities under a single charter. A Governance Subcommittee - consisting of two members from each board - has been reviewing governance models and has completed one qualitative survey and six focus groups to gather resident input.
The two governing boards will use all this input from residents to develop a governance model proposal. There will be more public outreach and education as well as legal public hearings in October of 2020 prior to a vote on November 3, 2020.
History and Recent Merger Efforts
The Town of Essex was incorporated on June 7, 1763. The Village of Essex Junction was incorporated—within the town of Essex—on November 15, 1893 to provide additional services (such as sidewalks, water, and sewers) to village residents. As the town outside the village developed, they gradually added similar services for themselves.
After much work by a Merger Task Force in 2005-2006, a proposal of one charter with one governing board for both communities was placed on the ballots of both communities. On November 7, 2006, a merger vote passed in both communities. On December 6, 2006, a petition to reconsider the merger was submitted to the town. The re-vote was held on January 23, 2007, which overturned the merger. Click here to view the 2006 Merger Web Page.
Voter tallies for the first merger vote - November 7th, 2006:
yes - 4376 no - 4167
Voter tallies for the second merger vote - January 23rd, 2007:
yes - 2703 no - 2890
Current Governance Structure
The Town of Essex and the Village of Essex Junction currently have their own charters. Some municipal departments and services have been consolidated in the last few years, such as the Manager’s Office, Clerk’s Office, Finance Department, and the Essex Area Senior Center, among others (click here for consolidation information). These departments and services are paid for by all members of the Essex community, whether in the Village or the Town outside the Village. These consolidations have saved more than $2.5 million (from Fiscal Year 2014 to Fiscal Year 2020). Other municipal services are funded separately, such as the fire departments, recreation departments, libraries, and community development and planning.
News Coverage and community conversations about this topic are featured regularly in the Essex Reporter. www.essexreporter.com
- Heart and Soul of Essex - 2012-2014 - Identified Thoughtful Growth and Local Economy as core community values that need attention
- An Examination of a Shared Service Delivery Model for the Village of Essex Junction - Town of Essex, VT - 2014
- Essex Governance Group Final Report - 2015
- Public Works Consolidation Memorandum of Agreement and Amendment - 2015, 2018
- Thoughtful Growth in Action Report - 2016 - Preferred approaches to coordinating planning governance structures