By Abbie Kopelowitz
Town Meeting Day in Moretown is approaching, and the town select board hosted an informational meeting via Zoom to answer the public’s questions about the articles on the ballot.
This year, Moretown will once again use a drive-thru system for voting. Additionally, all active registered voters will receive a town ballot by mail before March 1.
Tuesday night, February 22, the informational meeting began with discussion of the town budget. Article 5 asks voters to approve the 2023 town budget of $1,366,307. The proposed budget is up nearly 13% from the current budget, warranting questions from the public about certain line items.
Articles 6 and 7 ask voters if they want to get rid of the offices of town lister and town auditor, respectively, replacing them with contracted services. The board explained that this is common in Vermont, and that under Act 21, the Vermont Legislature gave towns an option to replace these positions without adopting a charter.
Article 8 asks voters if they want to approve spending $30,000 with interest for a tractor. As stated in the informational meeting, the tractor will be used for mowing and plowing everywhere it is needed, specifically sidewalk space.
Law enforcement costs are detailed on Article 9, asking residents to dedicate $20,000 to contracting with Vermont State Police or the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. The board stated that issues with speeding in Moretown encouraged this part of the ballot. In the past, the town has spent only $10,000 on law enforcement, but the board said that prices have since increased. Board members reasoned that police presence on a more regular basis might benefit the town.
Article 10 asks citizens to allocate $10,000 to the maintenance reserve fund, and Article 11 asks voters to approve spending up to $22,000 for self-contained breathing apparatus equipment for the Moretown Volunteer Fire Department. Fire chief Stefan Pratt said that the department hopes to purchase three breathing apparatus units. He said that the department hopes to receive a few each year so they can wait longer to replace them. “They can be retested and used for 15 years before their life expectancy is over,” he explained.
Article 12 asks voters if they want to add $10,000 to the fund for repair and upkeep of bridges in Moretown. After having reduced the amount a few years back, the town hopes to continue adding more to what is already saved. The board said that there is currently $31,000 saved in the fund.
The following Articles, 13 through 33, list a variety of appropriations for nonprofits. Janna Clar, communications and development coordinator for Montpelier Senior Activity Center, spoke in support of Article 26. This asks voters to appropriate $1,100 to support the work of the Montpelier Senior Activity Center.
The last question on the ballot, Article 34, asks for the authorization of cannabis retailers and integrated licenses under the state law allowing the creation of a commercial, state-regulated cannabis industry in Vermont. The public stressed the need for wariness in selling to minors, as well as education if the motion passes.
Lastly, state representative Maxine Grad explained that she was working on the state budget, focusing on workforce development, housing shortages, child care, climate change, public safety, transportation and infrastructure resilience.
The informational meeting concluded with the reminder that mailed ballots do not include the ballots to vote on items in any school district.
Kopelowitz is a student in UVM’s Community News Service which pairs student writers with local newspapers.