Results of the second “merger” survey are in!

But because anyone from anywhere could take it multiple times, results are unreliable.

Therefore, I asked the joint boards not to speak of these survey results in the future.

Yet, the lack of valid results didn’t stop elected officials from mentioning them in recent issues (Nov. 7, Nov. 14).

Really concerning is their tenuous grasp of the facts.

With ten elected officials’ mug shots bordering each weekly installment, did even one peer check-and-balance the author’s pro-merger predictions?

Apparently not. Elaine Haney says, “Under merger, the Town budget would no longer receive extra funds from the Village...”.

Actually, under merger, the Town budget would receive approximately the same funds from the Village. The reason that taxes for TOV residents would increase is because the TOV would—at least until the next budget vote—have to absorb 58% of the Village’s former General Fund budget.

The author continues to mislabel the innovative alternative to merger which is called, correctly, Separate-and-Share. SAS would keep the efficiencies and savings that departmental consolidation has brought without forcing reluctant departments to merge.

SAS would maintain separate planning functions, for example, because merging comprehensive plans and zoning regulations is a very costly endeavor, and taxpayers seek more savings, not more spending.

Elected officials hear about too-high taxes everywhere they go; no survey needed.

The boards stand ready to add all kinds of extras to the Tax Shift that is euphemistically called Merger. This time of year, one might label these adjustments to local government as literal “fixings” to adorn the merger-turkey,

Rest assured, however, merger is not needed to trim the number of local-election days.

Likewise, merger is not needed to move the budget vote from a meeting format to an Australian ballot.

Both changes were requested several years ago by the Essex Governance Group, as the current Selectboard Chair, Vice Chair and I well know. We attended EGG meetings and acknowledged hearing their message.

We also talked about conversing with EWSD about combining our votes with theirs. But there was no political will to make this happen, until the current Selectboard needed to dress up the merger-turkey to increase its appeal.

As for improving and ensuring representation for the TOV — half the town’s population — I submitted a 300-signature petition to the Selectboard in April 2018, asking for prompt attention to this matter. Again, no timely board response to an outcry from residents. But now, just in time for the holidays, lip service is paid to equitable representation.

When will staff and elected officials offer residents some mouth-watering charter changes and stop selling a merger plan that’s not appetizing to a clear majority of residents?

Hold that merger-turkey, but bring on the fixin’s, folks!

Irene Wrenner

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