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On Town Meeting day, Moretown residents will vote on an article that could raise the ceiling on the limit the town can spend without holding a townwide vote; select board members voted in favor of increasing the expenditure level requirement from $5,000 to $10,000 at their January 3 meeting.
As it stands, the town cannot spend over $5,000 without first getting
the authorization of the voters via a townwide Australian ballot vote
unless they tap into the Capital Reserve Fund.
Select board member David Van Deusen said that raising the ceiling on the expenditure level requirement would increase Town Meeting participation by allowing more discussion from the floor.
"I don't think it gives anybody an advantage in town, and I don't think it gives anybody a disadvantage; I think it's a healthy thing and we should have that discussion," he said.
Select board chair John Hoogenboom said, "At one point we agreed it would be a good idea."
Select board assistant Cheryl Brown asked what would happen if the voters amended the article and lowered the expenditure level limit. "If you have an emergency under $5,000, you have to wait for a vote and that takes at least 30 days," she said.
Van Deusen said he didn't think lowering the limit would be an issue with the way the town's finances are currently set up.
"We have the cushion of the reserve fund."
Brown said that the town cannot use reserve funds for everything--legal fees included.
Select board member Stephanie Venema abstained. "I'm abstaining because I don't see the advantage of it," she said.
Van Deusen said he knew the Town Meeting moderator was in favor of the idea and that it "isn't something to be afraid of."
"People are going to be at Town Meeting, engaged on this issue; the more choices you give people on the floor the more engaged your community is going to be," he continued.
Van Deusen announced that he will not seek re-election to the select board in March. In a circulated newsletter he said that for the duration of his term, top priorities include "property tax relief for wounded military veterans, exploring the possibility of establishing a wind farm in Moretown, and expanding the democratic powers of the people as gathered at Town Meeting by increasing the monetary limit placed on floor votes (versus Australian ballot).