Orange voters OK $295K budget increase

  • Voters wear masks and maintain social distancing at the outdoor Special Town Meeting at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School’s football field on Monday evening. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Voters participate in Monday’s Special Town Meeting at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School’s football field. It was held outdoors, with people spaced 6 feet apart. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Bruce Scherer stands at the podium, where he served as moderator for Orange’s Special Town Meeting at the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School football field on Monday. Scherer took over the role for the usual moderator, Christopher Woodcock, who is having health issues. Orange Town Clerk Nancy Blackmer sits off to Scherer’s left. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 9/15/2020 2:25:54 PM
Modified: 9/15/2020 2:25:49 PM

ORANGE — Voters at Monday’s Special Town Meeting agreed to increase by $294,717 the omnibus budget they had approved for fiscal year 2021 at Annual Town Meeting in June, bringing it up to $21.5 million.

That June 15 vote was contingent on an override, which was rejected later in the month. This meant Orange needed to generate more money to pay for its Ralph C. Mahar Regional School assessment. The article, as well as the 24 others on the warrant, passed without incident at the school’s football field, where the Special Town Meeting was held to adhere to social distancing protocols aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. The meeting lasted about an hour and 15 minutes.

The warrant included three articles pertaining to a small land parcel that Selectboard Vice Chair Jane Peirce previously said five different parties are interested in splitting. The land, Peirce said, is “one little sliver,” probably less than a half-acre, on Holtshire Road, and was unknowingly owned by the town’s Water Department when it was selling parcels eight to 10 years ago. Peirce said the five parties have agreed on a plot plan for the terrain, which she said includes one camp and some boat docks on Lake Mattawa.

Peirce had previously explained adoption of the first related article allows Orange to accept from the water commissioners the responsibility for the land. The next article permitted the sale of the land and the dissemination of the profits to the Water Department and the town; the other allows the town to sell directly to a buyer at fair market value and sidestep a state statute that requires the land to be sold to the highest bidder.

Voters, who wore masks to safeguard against COVID-19, also gave their blessing to raising and appropriating $406,366.30 for capital projects — $25,000 for public safety radio upgrades, $16,000 for a self-contained breathing apparatus, $129,000 for building repairs and a fire suppression system, $44,000 for a plow truck, $14,000 for probationary firefighter protective clothing, $55,000 for a new police cruisers, and $123,366.30 for a 2020 Ford dump truck.

One article pertained to $162.47 in unpaid Orange Fire Department expenses. Fire Chief James Young told those in attendance he hates coming to them with unpaid bills, but that some just “get lost in the shuffle.”

The next article asked residents if they were willing to appropriate from available funds $18,300 to repair fire detection and suppression systems in the Orange Armory, the Orange Highway Department building and the Wheeler Memorial Library.

“The Orange Highway Department, when the building was built, used a black iron pipe for its … riser system coming in, instead of stainless steel, most likely for a cost-saving measure at the time,” Young said. “Unfortunately, that’s failing and needs to be replaced with stainless steel.”

Young explained the armory needs new smoke detectors and the library “has an electrical issue, which may prevent the transmission of a fire alarm activation directly to the Fire Station in the event that it goes off.”

Voters also adopted eight articles that give the town the ability “to acquire by gift, purchase, eminent domain or otherwise” land parcels needed to complete the replacement of the East Road bridge over West Brook, connecting North Orange to Route 2A and the rest of Orange. Peirce explained the respective landowners are in agreement with the town, and the warrant articles were merely a legal requirement.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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