Chapel Hill’s proposed budget grows without tax increase

05/12/2014 7:00 PM

02/15/2015 11:19 AM

Town Manager Roger Stancil proposed a $57.9 million operating budget on Monday that gives town employees at least a 3 percent raise and avoids a property-tax increase.

The current tax rate for Chapel Hill property owners is 51.4 cents per $100 of assessed property value. The town tax bill would remain $1,542 for a home valued at $300,000.

Town residents also pay county and school district taxes set by the Orange County Board of Commissioners. The county hasn’t released its proposed budget for the 2014-15 budget year, which begins July 1.

The Town Council will hold a public hearing on its proposed budget on May 19 and could vote to adopt the spending plan on June 9.

Stancil’s budget increases the town’s stormwater fee by 75 cents. The fee, if approved, would be $24.75 a year for every 1,000 square feet of impervious surface.

The proposed budget also dedicates a quarter-cent of the town’s tax rate to affordable-housing projects – one of the council’s goals for next year. One penny of the town’s tax rate raises roughly $729,000. Stancil said $188,000 could be set aside next year for affordable housing.

If approved, the budget would be nearly 6 percent more than this year’s $54.8 million budget, which included a 2-cent property tax increase to support the town’s general fund and Chapel Hill Transit.

Stancil’s recommendation for 2014-15 also allocates money to several town funds that pay for Chapel Hill Transit services, the town’s debt and other needs. The town’s share of next year’s proposed transit budget is $20.5 million. Carrboro and UNC-Chapel Hill also pay a share of the local transit costs, which have grown in recent years because of state and federal funding cuts.

The partners have a study underway to find ways of financing the fare-free transit system in the future.

The town also is wrestling with how to pay for $183 million in planned capital improvement projects, millions in retiree benefits and the future of recycling and solid-waste services. The town could seek a voter-approved bond to finance some of those projects by 2017, town business management director Ken Pennoyer said.

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