Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’S)
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Essex Junction Recreation & Parks (EJRP)
Essex Junction School District (EJSD)
Essex Parks & Recreation (EPR)
Prudential Committee (PC)
Recreation Governance Study Committee (RGSC)
Questions and Answers from you and your neighbors posed at our forums can be found on our "Forums" page by clicking here.
Why is it better to form a new rec district than to follow a similar path to other Village/Town service consolidations?
Forming a new rec district allows for the recreation budget to be independent of the municipalities and schools. Recreation resources will be preserved for enhancing recreation. Voters will have the opportunity to vote directly on appropriations for parks and recreation, and it will not be one part of a larger budget. This option is a way for both departments to come together under one roof, which is a new roof – not one that is long established by either. In general in Essex (Village and Town), people are passionate and proud of their recreation departments. This method of consolidation will not force Essex Parks and Recreation to become EJRP or vice versa. Instead, it paves a new path forward for both departments to create a new, shared entity.
Why is the vote taking place in December and not aligned with another existing time we vote?
The RGSC always had intended for the vote to take place in November, with the federal elections. After meeting with the Secretary of State's office about holding a state, local and federal election on the same day with districts that were redrawn after the 2010 census, the Town clerk decided "that a local election within a federal election would not work.” HERE IS A MEMO FROM THE TOWN CLERK ABOUT THIS DECISION. This was due to different deadlines for absentee ballots and petitions, and since there are different voting districts for the two types of elections. The Town Clerk said that “running a local election outside of the village district during a federal election runs the risk of someone contesting that election.” and that "the best way to handle this is to either hold a special election or do it at Town Meeting in March.” The next scheduled voting opportunity would have been Town Meeting in March. However, this presented two problems – 1) it would have created a very short timetable from the vote to actual unification in July and 2) both the Town and Prudential Committee would have completed their budgeting process and had to have built budgets that supported running recreation departments for FY18, when there was a potential that they would not actually be running two recreation departments. It was decided that in order to allow for more time from vote to implementation, and to allow the Town and Prudential Committee to develop their FY18 budgets with knowledge of the outcome of the district vote, that December 13 would best meet these demands.
What happens after the December 13 vote? If it passes? If it fails?
If the December 13 vote passes, the new board will take their seats in January and begin the work of preparing a budget for consideration in April, to support full consolidation by July 1, 2017. If the December 13 vote fails, the Prudential Committee resolved on 10.10.16 to "Pursue transferring governance of the EJRP to the Village Municipality." and "Ensure disposition of all EJRP properties, facilities, equipment, resources and contracts will be resolved directly with the Village Trustees by June 30, 2017."
The Village trustees have stated their willingness to work with the Prudential Committee to initiate transfer of governance of EJRP to the Village government:
They would seek to maintain and enhance all current EJRP programs and services and Explore finance and governance models that will allow EJRP to maintain its present entrepreneurial approach to creating and financing its programs and services and keep budget separate.
The Trustees and Village would not pursue any further efforts to consolidate recreation departments with the Town of Essex at this time.
Did the committee look at leaving just EJRP with the new school district (not consolidating with Town)?
The committee studied a consolidated recreation department under the new school district. The new school district is serving the Village of Essex Junction, the Town of Essex, and Westford. A consolidated rec department would serve the Village and Town only, therefore leaving out a member of the unified school district (Westford). Additionally, the new school district board was not showing clear initial interest in taking on the management and oversight of a recreation department. Since the committee ruled out a consolidated rec department under the UU board for the reasons outlined above, a separate EJRP under the UU board was not a viable option.
How do other Vermont towns with incorporated villages deal with providing recreation services?
Other than the Village of Essex Junction and Town of Essex, there are no other examples of a Village within a Town whereby both municipalities maintain a separate recreation department. Our situation is made further unique since the Village department is actually operated by the school district, not the municipality. A cursory look into this question resulted in the following findings: according to the Secretary of State’s office, there are 37 incorporated villages in Vermont. In one village, recreation is provided by a non-profit organization for both the village and town (Woodstock). In 13 villages, recreation is provided to the village and the town through one department, operated by the town (Bellows Falls, Enosburg Falls, Hyde Park, Johnson, Ludlow, Manchester, Morrisville, North Bennington, Old Bennington, Poultney, Saxtons River, Swanton, and Waterbury). It is not clear if any of the 13 villages originally had a recreation department, as well as having a department in the town, and they ended up merging under the town. The other 23 villages do not appear to have recreation departments.
Will there still be resident and non-resident fees? Who will be defined as a resident?
People who live in Essex, whether it is the Village or Town outside the Village, will all be considered residents of the district and pay resident fees for programs. Anyone who resides outside of Essex will pay non-resident fees. This is a change since currently people who live in the Town outside the Village are not taxpayers of the Village rec department and thus are non-residents.
What are the current budgets for EJRP and EPR and how much tax support do they receive?
In the current budget (FY17), EJRP receives $744K in tax support and EPR receives $784K. The total budget (operating, capital, and debt relief) for EJRP is $2.35 million and for EPR is $1.38 million. The budgets are a reflection of the programs, pools, and facilities that each department operates, and the revenues (program user fees) that they generate.
How are recreation budgets currently voted on? How will the rec district budget be voted on?
Currently, Village residents vote for the EJRP budget as its own article and elect members of the governing body (PC), by Australian ballot in April. Both Village and Town outside the Village residents vote for the Essex Parks and Recreation budget (as a part of the overall Town budget) at Town Meeting by voice vote, and elect members of the governing body (SB) by Australian ballot on Town Meeting Day. With the new rec district there will be one vote by both Village and Town outside the Village residents on the budget and governing body by Australian ballot in April (concurrent with the school budget vote). This aligns with the election of Village Trustees and vote on the new Unified Union School District budget. This will make it so three of the four Australian ballot votes that take place in Essex happen on the same day. The only Australian ballot vote not on this day will be the election of Selectboard members and other Town business, which happens on Town Meeting Day in March.
What happens to remainder of the 1999 Maple Street pool and building bond?
The final bond payment will be made on 12/1/19. The total amount outstanding for FY18, FY19, and FY20 is $322K. Village taxpayers will pay the outstanding balance on the bond, as they were the ones who approved borrowing the money.
Will there be any layoffs with the formation of a new rec district?
There are not any layoffs anticipated at this time.
Where will the office be for the new rec district?
There will be one recreation office located at Maple Street Park, 75 Maple Street.
Who will run the day-to-day operations of the new rec district?
The rec district will be run by a recreation staff and managed by its own executive director. Oversight will be provided by the five-member elected board, just like the Trustees, Selectboard, Prudential Committee, and Essex Town School District. The board will select an executive director, who will oversee the staff – similar to the municipal manager and superintendent.
Can other Town and Village services be transferred to this new rec district in the future?
One of the appealing aspects of the rec district option is that the new municipality will have the flexibility to be entrepreneurial in nature, and to take on other entities and community endeavors when deemed appropriate. This could include things like the Farmer’s Market, Block Party, etc.
Can a community withdraw from the district? Could the new rec district be dissolved in the future? How would that be decided?
Yes, a member of the union municipal district (either the Village or Town) may vote (by a majority of voters) to withdraw from the district after five years has elapsed and if the district has not voted to bond for construction/improvements. In the first five years, the Trustees, Selectboard, and district board would need to vote to dissolve the district and then present the plan for dissolution for voters to decide. In year six and beyond, the district board could vote to dissolve the district and present the plan for dissolution for voters to decide.
What other union municipal districts is Essex a member of?
The Town of Essex is a member of the following union municipal districts: Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA), the Winooski Valley Park District, the Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD), and the Champlain Water District.
Are there examples of other union municipal rec districts?
There are many examples of other recreation related union municipal districts in Vermont. The Winooski Valley Park District, the Jericho Underhill Park District, the Lake Fairlee District, the Wrightsville Beach Recreation District, and the Lake Iroquois Recreation District are all recreation related union municipal districts. Across the country, the concept of forming a recreation district as a way to deliver recreation related services is more common, especially in the Midwest and West. Here are some examples: Illinois Association of Park Districts (http://www.ilparks.org), California Association of Recreation and Park Districts (http://www.carpd.net/index.html), Washington Park and Recreation Districts (http://mrsc.org/Home/Explore-Topics/Parks-and-Recreation/Park-and-Recreation-Special-Districts/Park-and-Recreation-Special-Districts.aspx), and parks and recreation districts in various states (https://www.allthingspolitical.org/special_districts/districts_parks_and_recreation.htm).
What happens to the Senior Center and senior buses?
The Senior Center will continue to operate as it does today in Lincoln Hall.
If the Village and Town merge someday, could the rec district continue?
Yes, this provision has been written into the Agreement. Additionally, in the first year, the new board may consider developing a charter, which voters would have to vote on, and would then need to be ratified by the legislature. This would provide further permanent preservation of the district.
Will this mean more voting?
The RGSC has identified April as the date to vote on the rec district budget and officers by Australian ballot. This aligns with the election of Village Trustees and vote on the new Unified Union School District budget. This will make it so three of the four Australian ballot votes that take place in Essex happen on the same day. The only Australian ballot vote not on this day will be the election of Selectboard members and other Town business, which happens on Town Meeting Day in March.
What will happen to the EJRP Preschool?
The EJRP Preschool will continue to operate after the district is formed in December.
Will EJRP preschool be available to Town outside the Village residents?
The EJRP Preschool will be available to all residents of the new rec district, at the same rate (currently Town outside the Village families pay the non-resident rate). If the formation of the district indicates a greater demand for quality pre-k educational opportunities, rec district staff will take that into account and attempt to meet community needs.
The content for this website has been created by the Recreation Governance Study Committee as a way to provide the public with the information that they need to make an informed decision about whether or not to form a union municipal district between the Village of Essex Junction and Town of Essex on December 13, 2016. Questions may be submitted on the FAQ's page.