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Orange: Delayed tax bills ‘several weeks away’

ORANGE — Taxes are one of the few things in life that are inevitable — unless, that is, you live in Orange. But residents who are starting to wonder why they still haven’t received their local property tax bills can rest assured they will arrive shortly.

Town Administrator Diana Schindler said there are several reasons for the delay in setting the tax rate and sending out bills.

Prolonged vacancies of the treasurer and accountant positions over the past year, combined with the town’s transition to a new accounting system, created a backlog of work, jamming up the flow of financial information and reports. That situation slowed the ability of the financial team to close out the fiscal year and report information essential to setting the tax rate.

Property values were also revaluated this year. The final report of the revaluation is also critical in setting the new rate.

But the revaluation process was waylaid last spring when officials were forced to reschedule a special town meeting several times due to poor voter turnout. Voters finally approved funds for the project in June, allowing Schindler to move forward with the hiring of a contractor. However, the challenge of reaching a quorum created a two-month delay in getting the revaluation off the ground.

The hold-ups allowed the assessors to take additional time this year to evaluate the new growth that, according to Schindler, resulted in some unanticipated positive outcomes. “The assessors spent more time than usual poring over new growth, but that gave them a chance to set some consistent policies for evaluating these figures in the future.”

Schindler said that the Department of Revenue is working with the financial team to finalize their FY13 report this week. Once that happens, she said a classification hearing will take place in which the tax rate is set.

If all goes according to plan, Schindler expects the hearing will be held next week.

And residents can expect to find their tax bills in their mailboxes within several weeks.

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