December 6, 2019

Essex Finance Board Puts Off Decisions on Budget Reductions

ESSEX— The board of Finance has deferred decisions on reductions to the town budget plan for 2011-2012 to a May 19 meeting with members of the board of selectmen and local board of education.

The finance board held a special meeting Thursday in the wake of Monday’s 114-81 town meeting defeat of a proposed $21.59 million budget. It was the first voter rejection of a proposed town budget for Essex in decades.

Jim Francis, board of finance chairman, said about 70 residents turned out for the meeting, and were given a chance to comment on possible changes and reductions to the budget. But at Thursday’s meeting, Francis said there was also input from residents objecting to any drastic reductions in the budget plan that includes a $$6.78 million town government budget and a $7.4 million appropriation for Essex Elementary School.

Francis said the board’s regular meeting on May 19 would become a joint meeting with members of the board of selectmen and local school board. Francis said the finance board would “ask the selectmen and board of education to find what they can find,” in possible budget reductions, and present recommendations at the joint meeting.”Hopefully we come up with a budget that we all agree we can live with,” he said.

Francis had said after the result was announced at Monday’s meeting, the vote on a revised budget would likely be held by referendum. The board of selectmen must make the final decision on whether to call a referendum, and set the hours of voting. There could be a full day of voting, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., or an eight-hour 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum like the May 3 vote in Chester, Deep River, and Essex that resulted in approval of the Region 4 education budget.

Francis said the second vote on a revised budget would likely be held in early June. “There’s no real tension to the whole thing until we get to the middle of June,” he said. Town officials need a budget approval in June in time to mail the July tax bills to property owners.