Orange County Commissioner Mike Nelson sent out a newsletter today with his thoughts on the county budget. Read his note below.
The Board of County Commissioners grappled with a very sizable budget crisis this year and are set to vote on the budget this week.
The crux of the situation is that some of our revenues fell, such as sales tax, while others, such as property tax, remained stagnant. Consequently, the County Manager recommended a tax increase of nearly 9 cents per $100 which would put Orange County's tax rate at $1.038.
Once adding in city taxes and school district taxes, a homeowner in Carrboro or Chapel Hill would be paying nearly $2 per hundred in local property taxes. And in year in which OWASA's is increasing rates by 17% such a significant tax increase is untenable.
For lower income and even middle-income families, it's becoming more and more difficult to remain in Orange County. Consequently, the Commissioners sought ways to alleviate the tax burden while maintaining access to human services, good schools, and parks.
The cuts we've agreed to were neither easy nor pleasant. We froze human services allocations to outside agencies at last year's level; we instituted a hiring freeze in all county departments, we postponed the opening of two county parks, and we cut over a dozen positions that the manager had asked for. By the time all was said and done, we found ways to cut roughly $5 million from the manager's proposed budget. This is the equivalent of 4 cents on the tax rate.
The Board of Commissioners worked hard to apply cuts in an even-handed manner so that no one department or community need would bear the brunt of these cuts.