The Recreation District Board will provide budget guidance, evaluate the budget in public, and hold at least one public hearing before sending it to voters. Voters will then weigh in by Australian ballot. EJRP has an independent budget, has not had to compete for tax support with other departments, and has built their budget on a level tax rate for the past 9 years. Between 2007-2016, EJRP taxes increased 1%, while Village municipal increased 13%, Town (outside the Village) municipal increased 25%, and Town (inside the Village) municipal increased 54%. The independent recreation department required the least amount of tax increases vs. the municipalities.
RUMOR NUMBER TWO:
"The books are closed. There is no audit. The treasurer is under the executive director."
The same financial protections and checks & balances that exists for our municipalities will apply to the Recreation District. There will be an annual independent audit. The treasurer is appointed by the board and is independent from the executive director. There will be routine financial reporting.
RUMOR NUMBER THREE:
"The taxpayers will lose control over their parks & recreation services, parks, and community assets"
Taxpayers currently maintain control of their parks & recreation services through a 5-member elected board in both the Town (Selectboard) and Village (Prudential Committee). The Recreation District will be governed by a 5-member elected board. Taxpayers maintain control of their parks and community assets through a 5-member elected board in both the Town (Selectboard) and Village (Trustees). The parks and community assets will continue to be owned by the Town and Village, but are proposed to be leased (for $1/year) to the Recreation District. The District will operate and manage the parks and develop a capital replacement plan.
RUMOR NUMBER FOUR:
"There will be no oversight, no checks and balances."
The Recreation District will be overseen by a 5-member elected board, just like the Village, Town, Essex Junction School District, and Town of Essex School District. The voters will provide oversight by electing members of the board, voting by Austral ballot on budgets, and attending & voicing their opinions to the board. The board will appoint an independent treasurer. The board will appoint the executive director.
RUMOR NUMBER FIVE:
"The committee sought waivers and exemptions from state laws when writing the Agreement."
No waivers or exemptions were sought. From Michael Duane, Sr. Assistant Attorney General: "In accordance with 24 VSA 4802(a) the Attorney General has determined that the Agreement is in proper from and compatible with the laws of Vermont, and in particular with Chapter 121 of Title 24."