Moretown was expecting a surplus at the end of fiscal year 2019; however, a recording error made by listers in early October ended up costing the town $131,000, pushing Moretown into a $76,000 deficit for FY19. Now, the Moretown Select Board is scrambling to get an insurance claim completed for this error, in hopes that the town won’t have to raise the tax rate to manage the area.
Here’s a brief recap of what happened: During the Moretown Select Board meeting on November 18, two listers came before the board with an error and omissions incident involving Green Mountain Power (GMP). The listers had incorrectly recorded the value for the GMP parcel ID 08-073.00 for $8,856,800, when it was supposed to be $2,610,500.
Mike Woods, one of the listers present at the November 18 meeting, owned up to the mistake, saying that the listers had used the wrong number when totaling the worth of all the assets including property and power usage.
Fast forward to last week’s select board meeting on January 21. As select board members worked to finalize the budget for FY20, they were hopeful that the lister error would be covered by insurance. “As of Friday, VLCT (Vermont League of Cities and Towns) has filed a claim for that money. We’ll have an answer by Town Meeting Day. We may have to only put $60,000 forward,” said Tom Martin, select board chair.
At a January 21 meeting, the select board approved a budget for FY20 that does not include the lister error, as they wait for a response from the VLCT. Without the lister error, the budget is still rising, 4.5 percent higher than last year’s budget. The FY19 budget was $1,203,492 and the approved FY20 budget is $1,259,989, a difference of $56,497. The main contributors to this budget increase are the $25,000 sidewalk installation project, the $21,000 payment on a Dodge Ram for the highway department, and a $10,000 increase for town office software programming updates.