To the editor:
Our Annual Town Meeting will be held tonight at 7:30 p.m. in our elementary school.
I urge all Essex voters to attend this meeting, where many decisions will be made that affect our taxes and the quality of life here in Essex. There are numerous articles scheduled for this meeting that are important; however, several rise above the others — those related to the continuing effort to resolve the situation and conditions at Conomo Point.
Many people have an interest in these issues for a variety of reasons. But every single resident in Essex should be very interested in this issue for the single reason that it will impact everyone's property taxes.
If we continue down a carefully planned and purposeful path, which is where the proposed articles will lead, we position ourselves to do the best and right thing for the town as a whole.
The proposed articles will demonstrate to the state Department of Environmental Protection that we are acting in good faith and working to comply with the Conomo Point Plan (part of the wastewater consent decree with the Office of the Attorney General, the DEP, and the EPA) which has a deadline of December 2014. More importantly, on a personal level for each taxpayer, the proposed articles will help to boost the town budget and to eliminate both tax increases and possible overrides, which could become necessary simply to handle the costs of resolving the Conomo Point issue.
If the Conomo Point articles are defeated, our position with the DEP will be compromised, and we will be one step closer to facing substantial penalties and fines if our deadline passes and we have not complied with the CP Plan. If lease revenue is lost from the Point, our budget must absorb the hit. If tax revenue is lost from the Point, this is redistributed to every other taxpayer in town. The Conomo Point residents make up 10 percent of our taxpaying households — the remaining 90 percent of us would carry the full tax burden.
The selectboard crafted a comprehensive approach over a year ago, outlining steps for moving forward that will find the best balance between optimizing revenues for the town, minimizing litigation, continuing to own and lease the most desirable portions of the Point and providing opportunity and space (and funding, very importantly) for public access improvements. This is available on the town website with other Conomo Point reference materials (www.essexma.org).
Despite the unwarranted claims by some to the contrary, your elected selectboard continues to work toward solutions that are truly in the best interests of the town as a whole.
Now is the time to make wise and sound decisions that will augment our town budget and that will improve our access to the waterfront of Conomo Point for all townspeople.
Please come tonight and support the articles that will move us in a positive direction to settle these issues, give our strained budget and taxpayers some relief, and move us to an improved waterfront at Conomo Point.
Member, Essex Board of Selectmen