Moretown residents and town officials gathered at the elementary school Monday night for the first informational Town Meeting post-Irene.
Select board member Clark Amadon called the tropical storm and subsequent flooding that damaged 54 homes a “trial by water”; the most significant challenges facing the town are still ahead.
Town officials updated residents on the search for a new town office after the old building was destroyed when flood waters rose to eight feet. Town employees have been using space on the second floor of the fire department in the interim.
Select board members recognized the efforts of the Moretown Volunteer Fire Department with $50 bonuses for each of the 26 active members in addition to other small bonuses to town employees for their efforts during and after the flood.
While Stephanie Venema did not seek re-election, select board chair John Hoogenboom said she will continue to consult the town on FEMA and road matters, as she has been “integral in the past.”
“Though I suppose we could write her in for the three-year term,” Hoogenboom said. As it was, voters elected Michelle Beard to the select board on a write-in campaign.
Voters passed a total budget of $1,082,921, $25,239 more than last year’s budget of $1,057,682. With the 31 voter-approved articles, the final total is $1,125,177.
According to the select board report, while there is an increase, the actual operating expenditures were reduced or level in most departments. The increase is primarily due to a $50,000 payment made on the town’s $1.8 million revolving line of credit for flood expenditures.
Voters also approved Article 15 to spend $13,500 to purchase new radios for the volunteer fire department and Article 14 to divide the revenue from the Moretown Landfill so that 64 percent is put into the general fund to lower the tax rate and 36 percent is put into the savings reserve fund.
By Australian ballot on March 6, Clark Amadon and Tom Martin were both re-elected to one-year terms on the select board. Beard was elected as a write-in to a three-year position on the select board.
Kathryn O’Neill was elected to the Moretown School Board and Tom Badowski and Diana Costello were both re-elected to the school board.
Moretown Elementary School Principal Duane Pierson addressed the three Cs that support the school’s mission statement: climate, communication and curriculum. Pierson said the school board reviewed the challenges within the three Cs to develop a budget that should decrease taxes this year.
Significant reductions include the reallocation of the principal position to half time, as well as the reallocation of the special educator position to half time.
Enrollment is down, but Pierson said the school board continues to promote and market the school to the community in an effort to entice more families to move to Moretown.
Voters approved a total school budget of $1,950,327, a 4.1 percent decrease from last year’s budget of $2,033,715.