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FY 21-22 Budget News: 1.56% Tax Increase

FY 21-22 Budget News: 1.56% Tax Increase

10-Year Average Mill Rate Increase Is 1.18%/Year

Our Budget Strongly Supports Education, Town Services and Open Space Acquisition

Orange is a great place to live, with its low-key approach to getting work done, its “pitch in” mentality among its citizens, and the amazing degree of volunteerism on numerous Town Committees and Boards.  If you are new in Town, please come to the Annual Town meeting and introduce yourself to others.  I encourage all members of the Orange community to do two things:  (1) Come out and vote; and (2) come to the Annual Town meeting on May 12.

Purpose of This Article:  The Orange Board of Finance wishes to ensure that all taxpayers in Town have a solid understanding of financial matters that can impact the Town financial position and the taxes residents pay.  To that end, this article presents summary information about the FY 21-22 Town budget.  Note:  the proposed FY 21-22 Town budget was unanimously approved by the Orange Board of Finance (OBOF).

Bottom Line Upfront:  The Town has three major expense components:  Town Operations, Orange BOE (K-6), and Amity (7-12).  The Town’s Grand List increased by 0.7% from a year ago.  Overall spending increased by 3.20%.  To support this, the mill rate would rise from 32.74 to 33.25, a tax increase of 1.56%,

 As long-time member Kevin Moffett stated, “After thorough examination & review, the OBOF prepared a fair and reasonable budget to the citizens of Orange.  This budget addresses the diverse needs of our community during these unprecedented times.”

Spending:  Town Operations increased spending by 4.09% ($995K) primarily due to a $690K increase in Employee Benefits.  The major drivers of this benefits increase were the Police pension & Insurance costs, Orange Board of Education (OBOE) budget increased by 2.78% ($594K).  The Amity budget increased by 1.80% which – adjusted for student proportionality across the 3 Towns – increased the cost to Orange by $232K (0.93%).  Debt increased by 17.91% ($536K) due to the purchase of the Racebrook CC property & the 287 acres of open space.  Education costs are 62+% of the Total FY 21-22 budget.

Capital:  The OBOF plans to approve spending of $1,432K from the capital reserve fund as follows:  OBOE $243K (10 projects); TOWN $389K, which includes $220K reserved for a property Revaluation next year; and OTHER PROJECTS $800K which includes work needed at High Plains CC ($200K) and paving of Town Roads ($600K).  Paving will also receive $100K from the Highway Dept budget and also $600K from “Town Road Aid” (a State Fund).  In total then, paving will receive $1,300,000.

Budget Impact:  To support the FY 21-22 spending will require a mill rate increase of 1.56%.  Example:  for an “average” home valued at $355,500 assessed at 70% of its value, the property tax would increase from $8,147 to $8,274, an increase of $127.  Naturally, the actual increase to everyone’s property tax will be dependent on the property’s value.

Mill Rate 10-Year View:  Finally, I analyzed the Town mill rates over the past 10 years and calculated the %-increase for year-to-year.  Then, I averaged these increases over that period.  Result:  over a 10-year period from FY 10-11 through the FY 21-22, the mill rate increase has averaged 1.18% per year.

As OBOF Chairman Kevin Houlihan noted, “I am proud to be a part of our Board of Finance.  We have worked diligently to meet the needs of our community by effectively budgeting for town services and schools at minimal cost to the taxpayers.  During this difficult time, we have maintained our AAA credit rating which lowers our bonding costs reducing the burden on our taxpayers.  Our budgeting process and the results we achieve are the envy of many other Towns.”

The Path Forward:  Mark your calendars.  There are two separate referendums for Town citizens to vote on budgets.  May 5th is the Amity Budget vote which is being held across the 3 Member Towns on that date.  For the Town budget (which includes Orange’s share of the Amity budget), the next steps are the Annual Town meeting on May 12, followed by the Town budget vote on May 20.

Additional information can be found at http://www.orange-ct.gov/164/Orange-Government-Access-Television-OGAT.

by Jim Leahy, Vice-Chairman, Orange Board of Finance

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