The Town of Lisbon has spoken, and there will with the Village of Sussex any time soon.
During Tuesday’s primary election, Lisbon residents had a special question on the back of their ballots reading, "If the terms of the consolidation were reasonable, would you be 'for' or 'against' the consolidation of Lisbon and Sussex into a new municipality?"
Lisbon spoke loud and clear, and the answer is, “against.” Almost 80 percent of residents who made it to the polls voted against the consolidation, totaling just less than 2,300 votes. About 600 residents voted in favor of the merger.
Although this is a nonbinding referendum, the Lisbon Town Board is taking the vote seriously. Now that residents have overwhelmingly spoken out against the consolidation effort both in person and at the polls, they wouldn’t explore a merger any further.
The news is a defeat for officials like Town Supervisor Joe Osterman who said he was interested in, at the very least, exploring the opportunity further. Other proponents of the merger included Town Chairman Matthew Gehrke, County Executive Dan Vrakas and County Sheriff Dan Trawicki.
"I am very comfortable with the outcome, and now I am eager to get back to business as usual for the first time in a while."
However, although he spoke in favor of looking into the new municipality, Osterman wrote in the comments below that he is "comfortable" with the vote.
"I do not see this as a defeat, as stated in the article, but rather as a diffinative direction for the future of Lisbon," Osterman wrote. "I was very much hoping that the vote would come back with a good voter turn out, and either very strong for or against the consolidation. The worst thing that could have happened would have been an evenly split vote.
"The community is very much united in saying that we want to stay the way we are," Osterman continued. "Had the vote come back in favor of looking into a merger, I would have tried my best with the rest of the board to see if we could have made it work. I am very comfortable with the outcome, and now I am eager to get back to business as usual for the first time in a while. Thank you to all who voted and attended the meetings."
Osterman and the other Lisbon town supervisors will now have to regroup and decide how to maintain village-like services while maintaining a low tax rate and shrinking tax base. One of the solutions calls for Lisbon to reapply to become a Village, a process it failed to accomplish in the past.
Editor's Note: This article was updated at 9:27 a.m. on Wednesday with comments from Osterman.