The Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously adopted a $96 million dollar budget on Monday night which includes the second property tax rate increase in two years.
“The budget is balanced with a 1-cent tax increase, restoring the debt fund capacity almost to where it was before the recession started,” said Town Manager Roger Stancil.
With Monday’s vote, the town’s property tax rate rises to 52.4 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value.
Council members decided last week the added penny is needed to help replenish the town’s debt management fund, which will increase the town’s borrowing power by about $10 million before 2017.
Supporters say that will help the town take on big projects like bikeways, parks, and new police and fire stations sooner rather than later. The 2014-2015 budget also includes increased funding for road resurfacing, $400,000 to help finance new buses, and money to hire a youth services coordinator.
In addition, the Council also allocated nearly $700,000 to fund affordable housing initiatives, a move applauded by housing advocates including Habitat for Humanity Director Susan Levy.
“I think all of that who are involved in affordable housing and have been over the years are really heartened by this commitment on your part,” said Levy. “I think it was a bold and a brave thing to do and I just want to say how much we appreciate it.”
Though the budget was approved in just six minutes, Council members assured the public the plan had been fully vetted at a pair of work sessions last week.
“We are not just rubber-stamping a budget here,” said Mayor pro Tem Sally Greene. “We’ve really given this a lot of consideration.”
Chapel Hill has set its tax rate for the next year, but Orange County Commissioners have not yet finalized their budget, which could include an increase in the county-wide property tax rate, or a hike in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools special district tax.
The board will discuss the county budget at a work session Tuesday at 7 o’clock at the Link Government Center in Hillsborough.