Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Override Election

·What is the crisis?   The Town of Orange is facing a budget deficit of more than $700,000 for fiscal year 2011.  Revenues are down from the state and projected expenses far exceed any reasonable estimate of income the Town will receive.
·What is the Finance Committee proposing?  The Finance has recommended and the Selectmen have approved holding a special election that will offer four ballot questions to the voters.  If the override questions do not pass, some Town services will be sharply cut back or eliminated.  In the case of the Library, all library employees would be laid off, and the libraries would be closed.  One way or another, the budget would be balanced, as required by law.
·When is the election? The special election is June 14, 2010 from 10:00am to 8:00 pm at the Armory.
·What are the other questions on the ballot?  There are three other questions on the ballot.  These include whether to lay off part time clerical staff (and reduce hours for some full time staff) at Town Hall and certain other departments, whether to close the Transfer Station and turn off streetlights, and whether to fund the Council on Aging.
·What is at risk?  For the Library, all library operations would cease shortly after July 1, 2010.  Both libraries would close.  All library employees would be permanently laid off.  There would be no library programs, circulation of materials, or access to facilities.  Because Orange would not be financially supporting its own library, Town residents would not be welcome to use other area libraries.
·How much will the override cost me as a taxpayer?  The Library override question would, if passed, add 49 cents tax per $1000.00 of assessed valuation to property tax payers.  On a $150,000 home, the increase would be $18.38 per quarter.
·What Town decision makers are involved?  The Finance Committee, the Selectmen, and the Town Administrator have crafted this approach to balancing the Town Budget.
·How do I contact the Finance Committee, the Selectmen, and the Town Administrator?  All of the previous may be contacted through Town Hall at 978-544-1100 or in person at 6 Prospect Street.
·What can I do to to influence the outcome of all this?  Exercise your Right to Vote and determine what the future of Orange will be.
·What could happen at Town Meeting?    Town Meeting could change the Town Budget for next year in any way it sees fit, regardless of the override or the proposal from the Finance Committee. The only exception to the above is that the revenue authorized by the override could not be used for anything other than the purpose stated in the ballot question.  If the override funds were not appropriated by Town meeting for those specific purposes, the revenue could not be collected by the Town.

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