The town of Hillsborough, like Chapel Hill, is aiming for no increase in the effective tax rate. But if there has to be a tax increase, the Town Board wants to keep it below the inflation rate.
Staff recently presented cost-containment ideas to the Town Board. Ideas the board might pursue include:
• Reorganizing the Police Department structure — Under the proposal, positions would be transferred from the community policing division to the patrol division. The change from a two-squad to a four-squad patrol structure would help contain overtime costs while also increasing officer safety and police presence as more backup police officers would be available. The restructuring also would help expand the community policing philosophy throughout the department, increasing officer engagement with the community.
• Delaying the eligibility for longevity pay for town employees — The Town Board discussed delaying eligibility for the bonus pay to three to five years of service for the town. The bonus is given annually during the week of Thanksgiving and increases with the number of years an employee has worked for the town.
• Delaying the eligibility for retirement insurance benefits for town employees — The town currently provides medical coverage at age 55 for regular employees and at age 52 for sworn law enforcement employees who retire from the town with 20 years of continuous service. Under the proposal, the time required for new employees to become eligible for retiree health benefits would be increased to 30 years of service. The eligible age for benefits also would be increased to age 60 for regular employees and age 57 for sworn law enforcement.
• Having the Orange Rural Fire Department help with fire inspections.
• Starting a fire code self-inspection program for those facilities found non-compliant during an initial inspection by the fire marshal — The fire marshal currently re-inspects non-compliant buildings up to two additional times.
The Town Board also found the idea of adding a purchasing officer to the town as worth pursuing with additional investigation. Currently, each town department is responsible for purchasing needs with little, if any, coordination between departments.