I wasn’t going to write another posting about the merger but as I looked at a “Enough is Enough, vote No” sign, I feel compelled to point out the irony of the sign.
A friend that lives outside of Essex asked me about what all the mess was about. I told him to imagine my neighbor and I belonged to an association and that association paid for trash removal. However, because of something that happened 100 years ago, even though my neighbor paid his association dues, his unit had to pay for their own trash removal. So he pays 100% of his trash removal AND 42% of my trash removal (at this point you can substitute fire service, library, planning, almost any town service except police and highway). Now imagine that my neighbor, not liking that arrangement, came to me to merge the trash removal bid so we each paid the same. In addition, he was willing to slowly equalize the price over a 12 year period. However, instead of me being thrilled to have 12 years to ease in this equitable arrangement, I made up all sorts of excuses to say no. I didn’t like the way the first year of the agreement was managed, I told him he was paying more because he had luxury trash removal, I call him a bully and a whole host of other excuses that totally neglected the fact he was currently paying for services he was not receiving.
That is the situation we have in Essex, and that is why I find the sign so ironic. “Enough is enough” really belongs on the sign for merger. The fact that we tax Village residents the same as TOV residents but do not provide them the same services should not even be legal. Unfortunately, it is. It is the Village residents who should be saying “enough is enough”! The idea that we don’t find a 12 year agreement to equalize this inequity is beyond words. Sure, there are things I wish were different in the merger agreement, but in any negotiated settlement, there are things you like and things you don’t – its call give and take, and the fact we have 12 years (I expected 3-5) to fix this inequity more than make up for the things I don’t like.
I also have to admit I don’t like re-votes. I think the standard for allowing one should be much higher in Vermont than what it is. However, for the “No to merger” crowd to say it is unfair is pretty hypocritical as without the ability to revote, we would already be merged.
As a resident of the TOV, I have to say that if merger is defeated, I do hope the Village decides to separate. I realize this will mean my taxes will go up but I have not heard any solutions to the current situation that do not involve my taxes going up – that is what happens with subsidies end. No one likes to pay for things they are not receiving. If merger is defeated this time, then it is clear that merger is not a solution that is going to work. At that point in time, maybe separation is the only way to fix the issue. At least it will end the ceaseless debate, which I do believe is one thing we can all agree on.