More than four months after the close of the fiscal year, the state approved a budget that has those who oversee the town’s finances breathing a sigh of relief. Even though the town was prepared for enormous cuts in state funding, the news from the capitol that a budget had passed was good news.
“We were never in bad shape, whether we got the funding or not,” said Orange Director of Finance John Cifarelli. “Our Board of Finance was very conservative when they planned the town’s budget, knowing what was going on in Hartford. We knew that there would be no affect at all on our students and schools as other towns were faced with cutting teachers.”
Under the budget, Orange will receive $118,456 less in funding than it did in 2017. Included is the reinstatement of $181,034 for local capital improvement projects and a decrease in funding totaling roughly $360,000.
“The big thing that changed is that under the governor’s plan, Orange was going to receive zero dollars for ECS. Now there is $1.4 million and that is definitely a big help,” said Cifarelli.
House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said the passage of the budget closes the $3.5 billion deficit without raising income taxes and includes historic spending constraints. “The budget we have put in place includes historic spending constraints that will hedge against future deficits. While this budget is not perfect, it reflects the core Republican components of spending restraints, less borrowing so that we can finally start living within our means,’’ Klarides said. She added, “This is a day of hope for the people of Connecticut’’.
Under the budget, there is no municipal contribution requirement to the Teachers’ Retirement System. Special Education will remain funded as it has been, through the Excess Cost-Student Based grant. In Orange, the motor vehicle mill rate cap will be 39 mills in fiscal year 2018 and will go up to 45 mills in fiscal year 2019.
Klarides said the state will be able to close the massive deficit with less than a one percent increase in taxes and fees. The bulk of the tax hikes are on cigarette sales and the hospital taxes that will be refunded by the federal government once the state completes its application to the federal agency that administers Medicaid and Medicare.
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent