On Friday, January 29, Moretown approved a 2021 budget of $1,210,009, 1% lower than last year’s budget of $1,259,989. “Everything’s pretty level-funded,” said Moretown Select Board assistant Sasha Elwell.
However, although Moretown budgeted roughly the same amount this year as last year, the town’s actual expenditures for last year were higher than expected. In 2020, the town spent $1,402,314, which was $142,325 more than the town had originally budgeted.
This higher expenditure amount was the result of some emergency projects that came up during the year. In 2020, emergency repairs were needed on Dickerson Road in Moretown. This project ended up costing the town $31,745. “It was going to cave in. It had to be addressed. And it was at the beginning of COVID, so not many people wanted to bid on it,” said Elwell.
Additionally, it wasn’t until after the 2020 budget was finalized that the town decided to buy a new excavator for $146,869. “There were too many repairs that needed to be done. It’s just something that came up during the year,” said Elwell, explaining how the town decided to put a vote out to Moretown residents asking them to approve the purchase of a new excavator.
Finally, the town ended up spending $7,871 on the town’s Dodge Ram truck, rather than the $1,500 it had budgeted for the truck in 2020. Elwell said this spike in cost was due to the purchase of a sander for the truck that went over budget. “It should have been voted on, because it cost so much,” said Elwell. “The truck had a sander in it, but the road crew didn’t like the sander that was in it, so a new one was purchased in September because they thought it was a safety issue,” said Elwell. “But to my recollection, I don’t think it snows in September.”
While Moretown had to deal with a few unexpected pricey line items last year, this year, select board members hope they can stick to their level-funded budget. In fact, several line items are significantly lower than last year.
For instance, last year the town budgeted $11,650 for auditing, while this year it budgeted only $4,200. “Every few years we do a full audit and that happened last year. This year, it’s only a brief one,” said Elwell.
Moreover, election officials’ pay has gone down from $3,100 to $1,400, since the town only plans to hold one election this year on Town Meeting Day. “Last year we had four elections,” said Elwell.
There are a couple important line items going up in this year’s budget too. The Moretown Select Board agreed to give all its town employees a 2% raise across the board. Moreover, the town will spend $7,500 this year to support the work of the Mad River Valley Ambulance Service.