County Manager Bonnie Hammersley proposed a $230.6 million budget Tuesday for next year’s county operations and construction projects.
The proposed budget would be a $4 million, or 1.8 percent, increase over the current budget, but it would not increase the existing tax rate of 87.8 cents per $100 in property value. The owner of a $300,000 home would pay $2,634 in county property taxes next year.
The draft budget also uses $9.8 million from the county’s fund balance, or savings.
County employees would receive a 2 percent raise, and while they would not see their medical insurance costs go up next year, the cost of family dental coverage is expected to grow by $10 a month, Hammersley said.
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The Orange County commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget (nando.com/1aq) Thursday, May 28, at the Southern Human Services Center in Chapel Hill. The commissioners could vote to approve the budget June 16.
Hammersley said revenues are growing slowly but look promising. The projection for next year is a 1 percent growth in property tax revenues and 3 percent growth in sales tax revenues.
The county was able to use existing money to create 18 more full-time positions, she said, including three Orange Public Transportation bus drivers, a jail alternatives officer and court liaison for the Sheriff’s Office and five Solid Waste positions.
The largest funding increase is about $1 million allocated to education, Hammersley said, or a roughly 1 percent increase for each district.
That’s equal to an $81 increase in per student spending that the Orange County Schools had requested. While the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools could see the same increase, the district had asked for $302 more per student.
The county schools would receive $28.5 million toward operations. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools would receive roughly $44.7 million.
The districts also get money from the state and, in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, the city schools district tax.
The existing district tax rate – 20.84 cents per $100 of assessed property value – could provide city schools with roughly $22 million next year, officials said. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board has authorized the commissioners to add up to 3 cents to the tax rate, if needed.
Residents who live in the county district do not pay a schools tax.
Hammersley noted that this budget also begins phasing in full funding for charter school students over the next two years.
The county has capped charter school funding at 117 Chapel Hill-Carrboro students and 254 county students in previous years, she said, but the state requires districts to fund charter students at the same level as public school students.
There are now 217 Chapel Hill-Carrboro charter students and 475 county charter students, Hammersley said.
“Right now, what’s happening is, we’re not fully funding it,” she said, “but the money that’s going to the schools, they have to use to fund that.”
The Orange County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed 2015-16 budget at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 28, in the Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Road in Chapel Hill.