Town of Essex

The Town of Essex municipal office is backlit by the setting sun.

ESSEX TOWN — Since transitioning to the Australian ballot system in 2021, the Town of Essex general budget is no longer up for debate at Town Meeting Day. Instead residents must voice their questions and concerns before TMD.

There are many opportunities for resident questions and comments to be delivered to the Town. They can be voiced at Selectboard meetings, at the coffee chats the Town employees host, over email to selectboard members and at the two upcoming public hearings.

“Now that we’ve gone to an Australian ballot…[Town Meeting Day] is now an informational meeting, not a meeting where you can change the budget,” Selectboard Chair Andy Watts said to the Reporter.

The proposed tax rate increase for the FY24 Town budget is 21.4% which is an additional $330 for an average Essex home.

While the Town’s tax levy has decreased in FY24, the separation created a smaller tax base by 41%, which means the Town will face a higher than normal tax rate increase this year in order to maintain its services.

The budget process begins in the summer when Town Manager Greg Duggan asks the selectboard what their goals are for the new budget. Duggan relays the information to Town department heads who begin to create departmental budgets which are submitted in September. 

The Town’s management team reviews these budgets and discusses how they meet or don’t meet the selectboard’s goals. These budgets are pieced together to form the “Manager’s proposed budget” which is submitted to the selectboard for review in mid-October.

After a couple weeks of review, the selectboard held its first all-day budget session Nov. 4 and held budget conversations during each selectboard meeting since then. The next selectboard meeting is on Dec. 19.

The selectboard must finalize the budget by early to mid-January, after which they will warn a couple public hearings with the final budget number due Jan. 30. 

“At that point that’s what goes out to voters, that’s what gets voted on in March,” Duggan said to the Reporter.

All budget meetings are open to the public and all information about the budget can be found on the Town website. 

“Line by line what I have in front of me here on paper is up online too,” Duggan said regarding the budget. 

Approved budgets over the last three years can be viewed here for comparison.

The following departments are seeing increases in the budget: Information technology, Assessing, Community Development, Economic Development, Police Operating, Police Administration, Police Investigations Division, Police Animal Control, Fire, Essex Parks and Recreation Administration, EPR Parks and Facilities, EPR Senior Activities and the Essex Free Library.

If community members want to have their questions and concerns about the budget addressed, they must voice them before the final public hearing. The budget number cannot be changed after Jan. 30. The budget cannot be changed on Town Meeting Day.

“We’ve always had two public hearings and if there are substantial things that people ask for in those, we have in the past made changes, but it's better to have the feedback before the public hearing, the sooner we get the feedback, the better,”Watts said.

What sections of the budget do you care about? Let the Reporter know by emailing

Written By

Staff Writer

Kate Vanni | she/her/hers | Reporter | Kate covers Town of Essex and City of Essex Junction municipal meetings, schools and local businesses through written and visual storytelling. Reach her at (802)-448-0253


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