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By Rachel Goff

The Moretown Town Office Committee met last week to review a timeline for the new town offices, "which basically starts now and continues to December of 2015, when the project should be ending," committee chair Clark Amadon said.

At the Moretown Select Board meeting that took place on Monday, October 20, Amadon received permission for Maclay Architects of Waitsfield to move forward with Phase 2 of the design for the new town offices, so that the company "can begin work immediately," Amadon said.

Moving forward, the Moretown Town Office Committee hopes to have all the bid documents for the project ready by the end of January, so that the project can go out to bid in early February. If the town can stick to this timeline, construction on the new town offices could start in mid-April, Amadon explained.

Right now, the project's Request for Proposal (RFP) is complete. It includes "relatively minor" conditions that the town must meet in constructing new town offices at the current site of the Moretown Elementary School playground, Amadon explained, including mitigation measures to reduce radon exposure as well as water testing.

When the RFP is signed, "that allows the town to incur costs for the project," Amadon said. "Those funds would theoretically be reimbursed," he explained, but the committee plans to wait until after the town receives a grant agreement to start spending money.

The grant agreement is for a $700,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that Moretown received last summer to build new town offices after its old building was destroyed due to flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. According to select board assistant Cheryl Brown, Moretown should receive the grant agreement in the next few weeks, at which time the town can take out a construction loan with Merchant's Bank at 1.55 percent interest without worrying that it will not be reimbursed for the expenditure.

According to Amadon, because the new town offices will technically be located in the 500-year floodplain, the project will have to go through the Moretown Development Review Board (DRB), and he has its zoning application ready to submit to the town.

This past November, Moretown residents voted 118-30 to approve up to $40,000 in short-term borrowing to construct the new town offices, which will cost an estimated $865,286. The town's out-of-pocket expense will be offset by the $700,000 CDBG, more than $120,000 in insurance money and $25,000 from the town's Deeryard Fund, which is dedicated "use for children" and will pay to construct a new playground on the other side of the school.

Taking into account this available funding, the town's out-of-pocket expense for the new town offices comes in at about $5,000, and the Moretown Town Office Committee asked the town to approve up to $40,000 in short-term borrowing to allow for overrun costs of a little less than 5 percent of the total cost.

The Moretown Town Office Committee first came together in December of 2011 to conduct an all-inclusive survey of sites on which to rebuild, ultimately selecting the site of the Moretown Elementary School playground as the best option. In the meantime, Moretown has established temporary town offices at Kaiser Drive on Route 2, in a building that the town leases from Moretown Landfill.