Essex voters

Another Election Day has come and gone – it being the sixth for Essex residents in just-over 13 months’ time.

With it: possibly the last-ever vote on whether or not the Town of Essex and the Village of Essex Junction should merge together.

The reconsideration of the March 2 Town Meeting vote on merger – in which the question was originally defeated – has preliminary results showing a higher overall town-wide turnout which once again defeated the question.

Merger failed by a preliminary count of 4,225-4,199.

The March 2 vote saw merger initially get defeated by 17 votes before a recount adjusted that to a defeat by 19 votes. A voter-led petition then called for the revote which was scheduled to take place in conjunction with the village’s and Essex Westford School District’s annual meetings.

Whether residents throughout the town ever vote on another, different plan of merger and associated charter for the merged communities could ultimately be determined by what the Village of Essex Junction decides to do moving forward.

Village election results

Part of the ballot for Village of Essex Junction voters was a non-binding, advisory question on whether the village should look into separating from the town and become the City of Essex Junction. That question passed by a count of 2,689-709.

If the Village Board of Trustees pursues that option and decides to put a binding question on a future ballot, only residents from the village will be afforded the opportunity to vote on that potential next step.

The separation conversation could start as early as Wednesday night as the trustees have a regular meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 14, on the agenda being “Discussion of legal counsel recommendations on options and next steps regarding merger and/or separation of Village of Essex Junction from Town of Essex” which is anticipated to take place in an executive session.

Two seats on the board of trustees were up for grabs with only two candidates being listed on the ballot for them. Current President Andrew Brown won re-election to the board while Amber Thibeault won her first three-year term. Thibeault has served on the board for the previous two years after being appointed in 2019 for the second year of a vacated seat and then winning the final year of the term in 2020.

Steven Eustis was uncontested in being re-elected as the village’s moderator, as was Jeanne Grant as a Brownell Library trustee.

Voters approved five other articles that were on the village-specific ballot:

–The proposed Fiscal Year 2022 General Fund Budget of $5,641,278 (2,536-807).

–Authorization to transfer the remaining balance in the Land Acquisition Fund, estimated balance to be approximately $82,700, to the Economic Development Fund to be used for downtown development (2,608-768).

–Extending the one cent Capital Improvement tax – also known as Economic Development tax – as established in 2016, to be reconsidered at annual meeting in 2024 (2,433-905).

–Raising the annual stipend for the position of a Trustee of the Village Board of Trustees from $500 to $1,000 (2,281-1,110).

–Holding the 2022 Annual Meeting on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 to act upon any articles not involving voting by Australian ballot and to reconvene on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 to vote for the Village officers and transact any business involving voting by Australian ballot (2,936-373).

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