Working toward a Greater Essex: What’s Missing?

I’m responding to “Why don’t the Town and Village just merge and get it over with” dated September 18th, by George Tyler, a Village Trustee. Why are ten photos always displayed with this column when there are only one or two authors. Is it to imply that all those elected officials concur with this one-sided series? If so, they should all sign. In George Tyler’s column he uses an analogy of two incorporated businesses to illustrate his case.

But, once again, he leaves out crucial information. He does not reveal that one business (Village Inc.) has been charging its customers extra in order to provide generous dividends, in the form of services, to its stockholders. Many love these dividends and don’t want to give them up. Mr. Tyler neglects to mention that the Board of the other business (Town Corp.) is populated with a majority of Village Inc. stockholders.

They make it possible for a merger to be entertained, even though Town Corp. stockholders voted to not merge in its most recent election. Continuing with the business analogy, this is akin to a takeover. If Village Inc. can manage to take over Town Corp., the cost of its dividends can be dispersed across a larger customer base. Village Inc. stockholders will keep getting their dividends while its customers will pay less and Town Corp. customers will pay more. Here’s the catch.

If these two businesses merge, dividends that Village Inc. stockholders are getting would have to be provided to the ALL stockholders of Town Corp. and Village Inc. combined! How much will this be? We know that Village Inc. takes in $3.6 million to pay out those dividends to its stockholders. We also know that the combined company will have more than twice the stockholders of Village Inc. all entitled to get the same dividends. One presumes that a significant portion of $3.6 million will be needed, in addition, to deliver payouts to all the former Town Corp. stockholders after a merger. Getting back to reality.

The Town-outside-the-Village (TOV) residents would have to pick up 58% of the $3.6 Million in annual taxes for former Village-only services. If the same level of services are to be extended to the whole town, additional taxes to pay for them would certainly be required. Tyler goes on, once again, to list savings that have been obtained by collaborating without merging. But he also, once again, omits what he stated at a Joint Governance Subcommittee Meeting on 8/2/2019: “People have a sense that, well you merge, and so there were two governments and you put them together, so that will mean efficiency, so that will mean some savings. We’re not saying that. That’s not necessarily how it’s all gonna work.”

Does Mr. Tyler know something he is not telling us? In his letter Mr. Tyler explains the “the boards have retained a private consulting firm to engage the entire community through a series of surveys and focus groups.” Really!

Ask your friends and neighbors: Did you take a survey? Did you attend a focus group? Are you not part of the entire community? One final thing missing from last week’s piece: The cost of hiring that private consulting firm, Kelliher Samets Volk (KSV) and assorted other marketing consultants, who are all working on merger, is $50,000 from taxpayer revenues. There’s only one reason to hire a marketing company.

Ken Signorello

Camp Johnson museum worth a visit

Recently, my wife and I along with our four- year old grandson Graham toured the military museum at Camp Johnson. It was a very rewarding experience that should not be missed by anyone.

Our docent, John, lead us along murals depicting wars our country has fought from the Revolutionary War up through and including Iraq and Afghanistan. While weapons used during all these periods were displayed there was period clothing,  various medals, model planes and ships, tons of books and even a full sized C-145 cockpit with all controls that really captivated Graham.

The free tour took about 45 minutes inside the museum and another 30 minutes to view the tanks and planes on the grounds. I asked John how many elementary, middle and high school students tour the museum? Sadly, the answer was only a handful over several years! Come on parents and teachers, use the facility as a history lesson and let the kids learn how our freedom was won. It may even start a history conversation at the dinner table!

Greg Walsh

Essex Jct.

Why Merge?

Concerning the merger plan that’s under discussion by the Selectboard and Village Trustees, one outcome that both Town and Village officials anticipate is that Town-Outside-the Village taxes will go up, and Village taxes will go down, as the $3.6 million Village budget is spread town-wide.

Residents of the Town need to ask themselves why they would want to pay more taxes and yet receive no benefit.

Ed and Mary Lou Hurley

NRA-type fear-mongering comes to Essex Jct.

“Opponents of the changes [in shooting range regulation] have charged the board with using the proposal to infringe on their rights and invade their privacy, and some have even threatened the board with lawsuits if it passed.”  — Essex Reporter Sept. 19, 2019.

The selectboard ran away scared of these threats made by backyard shooters who resist accountability for accidents like the one that killed Mia Watson’s grandfather in 2008.  Why are you scared?  Because of a threat of lawsuits — lawsuits that will be funded by the deep pockets of NRA.  That is so sad.  What most citizens want and need is not the overriding concern in this decision.

What is the common sense thing to do?  Control proximity and safety of backyard informal ranges, in a way that is affordable to recreational shooters and hunters. If NRA standards are so onerous, then let’s modify them into something that locals can afford. Better yet, NRA ought to have a grant program to help enthusiasts design and build safe ranges. Now that is something that would improve the public image of the organization.

It is not safe to allow people who are so emotional about their misinterpreted “2nd amendment rights” — and who are so fearful that “someone is coming for their guns” — to control the selectboard. The most vocal anti-regulation shooters seem to come at the issues with one angle only, to keep the right to shoot their guns anywhere anytime without oversight, even oversight to prevent accidental deaths.

Let’s face it, not all people using guns practice safety; some are drinking, some are kids. Other shooters are responsible and sensitive to the concerns of non-shooting recreationists or people just wanting to live in their house without fear of getting hit by a stray bullet. Let’s not put all shooters into the same basket; but let’s not cower under NRA-type tactics being waved over our heads.

Cecilia Polansky

Essex Jct.

Selectboard intimidated again

The Essex Selectboard was intimidated by the hunters and target shooters once again.  The question really is:  why hunters and shooters would you want to hunt and target shoot in Saxon Hill Park and neighborhood area when there are so many pedestrians using Saxon Hill Road as a daily access to either use as a shortcut to school, or they bike, or run on 6 lengths every day?????????

And, Why would you want to hunt near Deer Crossing Development that is again posted no Shooting around it’s entire perimeter?  Are you planning on tearing the signs down again so you can hunt?  Do residents of Deer Crossing have to put cameras around their properties, because the police say so, since they do absolutely nothing to protect you?

Do you think I’m going to be intimidated should another teenager shoot his rifle in the air to scare mountain bikers out of the woods, like I witnessed on November 16, 2016, just beyond the fence at end of Saxon Hill Road?  Do I believe our Selectboard shows any concern over the safety of the public using this road and park?  They care about the deer population, not human population who will continue to use this road and park daily.  Should no pedestrian or bike signage be erected at beginning of Saxon Hill Road in the next few weeks, you will be sure of pending lawsuit against citizen right to public safety on public road and land.

Good luck sleeping at night should one of us get hurt or killed.

Patty Davis