Letter: Orange special meeting
Some facts about property tax increases — this applies to all towns, not just Orange. State law allows towns to increase their total taxes by no more than 2.5 percent per year. That’s across all taxes in the town, with individual taxes increasing a little more or a little less as the individual property’s value changes compared to the total town. Although nothing requires towns to increase the full 2.5 percent, it is the rare town that can afford to increase by less.
State law only permits a larger increase with an election-box vote. No town administrator, selectboard, finance committee or town meeting can increase taxes more just on their own. As long as that election-box vote doesn’t happen, the taxes are held to only the 2.5 percent increase.
So why is Orange special town meeting being asked to raise new money? Because last spring we underestimated “new growth” in the town. What’s that? That’s new value available to tax that wasn’t there before. Some of it is Walmart. They expanded and will now pay taxes on that expansion. We have new solar farms who will now pay taxes. Town meeting is being asked to approve spending a portion of those additional taxes. Again, that’s new taxes on new property value, not higher taxes for the rest of us.
Another article on the warrant transfers some moneys so we can consolidate the highway and cemetery departments and help our financial departments with work needed to improve their operations. The last article asks voters to start a “senior work-off” program in which the town identifies work that can be done by some citizens over 60 in exchange for an abatement on their taxes.
Please come, listen, discuss, and vote your opinions on Thursday in the Orange Town Hall auditorium at 7 p.m.