The Board of Finance met last week in it's all day Budget Workshop to review the town departmental budget submissions for the upcoming fiscal year 2006-07. Like in year's past the board is faced with the challenge of rising expenditures in most major departments which will need to be reviewed further by the Board of Finance in order to determine the affordability based off of the upcoming revenue projections.

The Board of Finance also finalized and accepted the audit report for fiscal year ending June 30, 2005. As chairmen I am pleased to report that Orange is in excellent financial standing with the Board of Finance producing a balanced budget for the fifth consecutive year while rebuilding reserves to unprecedented levels.

Revenue this past year also came in $1.4million higher than originally forecasted namely driven by increases in our property tax revenue, investment income and conveyance tax revenues.

I would like to thank our tax collector Sandra DePuma for continuing to work hard in driving increased tax collections annually along with our past treasurer Gary Mullin for his efforts in investing town money in areas that produced higher than expected growth yields for the town. Thanks to the efforts of the Board of Finance the town was able to save $474,000 and now enjoys a healthy fund balance of $6 million, which represents 12 percent of the current budget.

This is after covering the cost of $400k for the Turkey Hill Oil Spill and budgeting $400k for short-term capital projects. Based on the Board of Finance continued efforts to focus on increasing fund balance from a low of 5.8 percent in 2001, the town now enjoys a healthy 12 percent fund balance.

This gives the town considerable leverage in establishing our bond rating and allows the town to sell bonds for capital projects at low interest rates. Recent developments at Amity have also produced a $523k budget surplus which will be given back to the Town of Orange and give us some upside as we plan for the upcoming year.

As Chairmen of the Board of Finance I can tell you it will be a challenging year, but our goal is to continue to invest in our school system, rebuild our infrastructure and manage cost so that we gain the best value for our taxpayers.

Kevin McNabola is Orange Board of Finance Chairman.