Orange Democratic Town Chairman, Jody Dietch, and Orange Republican Town Chairman, Nancy Nastri, jointly announced that the Town’s two political parties both support the proposed amendments to the Town’s Charter and are each working to encourage residents to vote at the referendum which is scheduled to be held on Thursday, May 18, 2017 at the High Plains Community Center from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Dietch stated that “the proposed amendments are the result of the hard work and collaboration of the Republicans and Democrats that served on the Charter Revision Commission over the last year”. Nastri echoed Dietch’s statement. Nastri said “our current town officials have worked well together to develop the proposed Charter amendments which are for the good of the town and are designed to modernize our local government and update provisions that haven’t been changed in more than 40 years”.
Dietch agreed with Nastri and emphasized that “the proposed changes do not reflect a change to our form of government, but simply reflect changes caused by laws that require some of our town officials to obtain certifications, or that reflect changes in property values, and trends in resident participation”. Nastri added, “for example, our Board of Selectmen is limited to making decisions on purchasing real property that has a value of $150,000 or less. This amount has not changed since the 1970s, but property values have increased dramatically since that time. The proposed change increases the selectmen’s authority to $500,000, an amount that better represents modern property values.” Nastri added to this point that “this example demonstrates that the proposed changes are not overreaching or changing our town meeting form of government. The residents of Orange will continue to have input on the major decisions that impact our town, like the annual budget, major open space purchases and bond issues, but the proposed changes will allow our elected officials to conduct town business with a modest increase in their discretion.”
In addition, the Charter Revision proposes changes to the terms of office for elected officials, including First Selectman as well as a change to the number needed for a quorum at a town meeting. These are important issues that both Dietch and Nastri strongly encourage residents to educate themselves on and turn out to vote on May 18. Further detail on the Charter Revisions are included in the local Orange newspapers.
Dietch and Nastri both applauded the effort that went into the proposed charter revisions. “It is clear from the bipartisan support on both the Charter Revision Commission and the Board of Selectmen that the parties can come together on issues that are for the good of the town,” they said.
Since the proposed revisions to the charter will be voted on at a special election that will be held on May 18th, the law requires a turnout of at least 15% of the registered voters in order for the vote to count. Nastri and Dietch stated, “this vote provides a rare opportunity for residents to make changes to how our town is governed. Our elected officials and neighbors appointed to serve on the Charter Revision Commission volunteered a lot of their personal time and we hope that all registered voters come out on May 18th to participate in this process”.
The referendum questions can be obtained from the town clerk’s office or the First Selectman’s office. Polls open on May 18th at 6 a.m. and will remain open until 8 p.m. Everyone will vote at the High Plains Community Center and absentee ballots can be obtained from the town clerk.