January 18, 2020

$22 Million Essex Budget Plan Approved on Voice Vote at Town Hall Meeting

ESSEX—┬áVoters gave quick approval to a $22 million town/schools budget plan for 2012-2013 at the annual budget meeting Monday night. The budget approval, on a nearly unanimous voice vote without discussion, stands in sharp contrast to a local budget battle last year. In 2011, the budget plan was rejected on a paper ballot vote at the annual budget meeting, with a revised and reduced budget later winning approval on a 532-438 referendum vote.

Nearly 100 residents turned out for Monday’s meeting, which had been preceded by talk of a possible paper ballot vote. But the spending plan was approved by voice vote with no request for a paper ballot vote.

The total $22,090,118 budget includes $6,853,591 for town government, $7,535,591 for Essex Elementary School, and the town’s $7,701,887 share of the Region 4 education budget that was approved by the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 8 referendum.

The board of finance will set the tax rate for 2012-2013 at a meeting Thursday. First Selectman Norman Needleman said he is hoping the finance board would hold any increase in the property tax rate to one-half mill or less. The current tax rate is 17.98 mills, or $17.98 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

James Francis, finance board chairman, said the board would discuss various options for the tax rate, including a possible transfer from the town’s undesignated fund balance to limit the tax increase or cover the increase in capital and sinking funds that is part of the approved budget. The town currently has at least $2.3 million in the fund balance.