By Kara Herlihy
Voters in the town of Moretown cast ballots Tuesday, March 2, at Town Meeting; residents passed a municipal budget of $967,098, 209 to 102. The budget comes in at 1.24 percent increase from last year.
Moretown has 1,347 registered voters, of whom 439 cast ballots on Town Meeting day.
Current select board member John Hoogenboom was elected to a three-year term on a write-in with 122 votes, and select board member David Van Deusen was elected to a one-year seat with 278 votes over fellow select board member Rob Roberts (243) and Reed Korrow (189).
No petitions were submitted for the three-year seat left vacant by former select board chair Rae Washburn. Hoogenboom was not officially up for re-election until next year, but he said if elected he would resign his current seat and move to appoint the loser from the one-year race.
In the contested race for second constable, Mike Demingware defeated Clarence Wood in a close vote, 197 to 177. In the three-way race for school board, Diana Costello was elected to the one-year term with 278, defeating Tom Badowski (215) and Jennifer Tripp Mead (187).
In another close vote, Moretown residents defeated Article 10, which asked voters to approve a sum of $190,000 for the purchase of a new dump truck for the town's highway department. Two hundred twelve voted against, 208 voted in favor.
Moretown residents voted in favor of the $2,133,967 school budget, barely, with 242 in favor and 189 voting against on Town Meeting day. School board members fielded questions from residents at Pre-Town Meeting, March 1.
At Pre-Town Meeting on Monday, March 1, voters expressed frustrations with the 10.7 percent increase in the education tax rate as a result of the decrease in students. School board members said that the school has reduced two paraeducator positions and "scaled back" the French program.
PART TIME TO FULL TIME
Special education needs are also increasing, according to school board members, and must be accommodated. In addition, the budget includes a 9 percent increase in technology and an increase in the school nurse position from part time to full time.
School board member Kaj Samsom told residents that the most the town can hope for is more students; the school's common level of appraisal drop along with the decrease in student enrollment are primarily to blame for the increase in the education tax rate, he said.
PER PUPIL SPENDING
Samson said the budget would need to be reduced by $350,000 to not increase the tax rate, for example.
This year the school's roof was replaced along with the main water system, following last year's voter-approved $700,000 bond on November 4.
The project, according to school board chair John Smeltzer, was the result of zero interest bond; the roof was completed on time and under budget, he added. The bond passed 714 to 324 and the roof was replaced over the summer.
Residents voiced concern of the cost of per pupil spending; some suggested increasing class size to save funds and reminded that, although the French program was reduced, Moretown was the "only elementary school in The Valley to have full-time French."