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Orange tax base boost brightens fiscal outlook

ORANGE — While the Orange budget has had a rough go of it in recent years, the future looks brighter as the fruits of new business development are hauled into Town Hall.

“We have positive indications of free cash and new growth,” Town Administrator Diana Schindler told selectmen recently.

She attributed the new growth estimated at about $490,000 to additional tax and other revenues due to two solar installations and the expansion of Walmart.

Town Accountant Darlene LeGrand added that this amount had not yet been certified.

“Congratulations to town employees for not expending the entire budget,” said Selectboard member David Ames, “that provides us with extra spending money,”

While the town’s finances are more solid than they have been in previous years, Schindler said she would like to see the additional revenue be set aside for the town’s stabilization fund and for capital improvements, rather than being spent on operating costs.

Ames and Selectboard Chairwoman Kathy Reinig agreed.

Treasurer Gabriele Voelker said that while revenues are higher than expected, there is still a chance the town will need to do some short-term borrowing as the tax bills will not be sent out by the end of this month.

Schindler said the tax bills will be sent early next year because the assessors are in process of revaluing property, “free cash” surplus has not yet been certified, and the audit is not complete.

Voelker said that if tax revenues do not come in quickly enough early next year, she may need to borrow up to $3.5 million to properly maintain the town’s cash flow. She said residents can help the town avoid the costs of borrowing by sending in taxes as soon as possible.

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ORANGE — Gabriele Voelker has been in the town treasurer’s seat for the past month, filling the holes on the financial team that have created a host of problems for town departments and boards over the past year. Voelker told selectmen recently that she and other team members are trying to reconcile the books that haven’t been balanced for the … 0

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