Orange County faces an $8.7 million revenue shortfall next year, the Orange County commissioners heard last night.
The shortfall is about 5 percent of this year's $183 million general fund revenue and represents about 7 cents on the county property tax rate. (If memory serves, each penny on the current 99.8 cent per $100 valuation tax rate generates about $1.3 million.)
"This is not unexpected,' Commissioner Mike Nelson said. "It's still pretty stunning."
One immediate consequence: Service cuts. The county began reviewing proposed spending cuts last night. County Manager Laura Blackmon said the 10 percent cuts she ordered will not be enough. She also said not all departments will have to cut their spending the same. Some provide more mandated services than others, and some have revenue streams that help pay for the programs they deliver.
But it looks like Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools Superintendent Neil Pedersen may have to revise his recommended budget. He has proposed nearly $1 million in cuts, assuming the distric would get the same funding as this year. (It was the first time in his 17 year he had submitted a plan without a spending increase.)
But Thursday night, county staff suggested a decrease in per pupil funding to the county's two school districts. A report prepared for the meeting shows what it would cost to fund the school system's with 48.1 percent of the county's anticipated general fund revenue. The county has a goal of spending at least 48.1 percent of the budget on education, but in fact has spent slightly above that.
If the county holds school funding to the minium goal, the per pupil appropriation would drop from $3,200 this year to $3,011 next year.