The Board of Finance met last week for the final time in 2006.

Looking back on 2006 it was a successful year for the board, but more importantly the Town

of Orange produced a balanced budget for the sixth consecutive year, while managing to invest town dollars in areas that yield the highest return namely education.

Last year we managed to hold the line on a tax increase for the first time in eight years and still invested in education with a nine percent budget increase which included six new teachers to maintain manageable classroom size.

The Board of Finance also approved $410,000 for capital investment projects, which included $82,000 for an Elementary School Computer Technology Upgrade, $140,000 for Public Works Dump Truck and $188,000 for other infrastructure related projects.

On the operating side of the budget the Board of Finance approved a new canine for the Police Department, which provides the department with a new valuable resource to assist in Narcotic Seizures and additional safety support for officers.

Finally in 2006 the Board of Finance would like to thank and recognize Dave Moakley for his five years of dedicated service as a member of the Board of Finance.

Dave has contributed countless hours in regular meetings and Budget Workshops to ensure that our tax dollars were spent wisely.

Dave's experience and expertise was well-respected by the board and we wish him well in his new endeavor as Police Commissioner.

As we kick off 2007 the Board of Finance will begin the Budget Process for the upcoming 2007-'08 Budget.

The 2007-'08 Budget will be based on a zero based budgeting approach requiring each program to be justified from zero dollars rather than incrementing last year's budget.

The exception to this will apply to negotiated salary increases which are contractual and energy costs such as utilities, gasoline, natural gas etc…

These significant increases in energy cost will have to be budgeted based on this year's forecasted actual amount along with the significant full year impact of increases for next year.

Like last year's budget the 2007-'08 budget will be based on continued investment in our school system, continual rebuilding of our infrastructure and managing cost so that we maximize value for our taxpayers.

Kevin McNabola is the chairman of the Orange Board of Finance.