Voters in Orange easily approve town budget

The proposed $46 million annual town budget for 2018-19 passed easily at referendum Wednesday, May 23, with 217 residents voting in favor and 31 opposing the spending plan.

Voting took place at High Plains Community from noon to 8 p.m.

The budget for the upcoming fiscal year represents a decrease of more than one mill for most homeowners.

Three of the “yes” votes were cast by absentee ballot.

Of that amount, more than $25 million will go toward elementary education. The Amity budget was approved earlier this month by referendum.

Under the spending plan, the tax rate would drop to 32 mills from the current 33.38 mills.

First Selectman Jim Zeoli said at a recent town meeting that under the tax rate change, 58 percent of homeowners will experience a tax cut or taxes that stay the same. He said it comes at a time when some communities are being forced to increase the tax rate to cover expenses.

The budget had $900,000 in revenue added to it at the last minute to represent money the town now expects to get from an educational cost sharing grant, as it recently learned the state restored some funds.

That money will go toward a science enhancement program that is part of the Next Generation Science Standards, mandated to go into effect by the end of 2020.