Orange County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a $200 million dollar budget that includes a 2-cent property tax rate increase.
The property tax rate for next year will be 87.8 cents per $100 dollars of assessed value, the first increase in five years.
The additional revenue will go to support education, as both school districts are braced for funding cuts from the state that will likely translate to a reduction in teaching assistants.
The chairs of both the Orange County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City school boards came before Commissioners to thank them for the increase.
Orange County Schools Chair Donna Coffey said the additional local money is not a windfall for the district, merely a patch at best.
“There’s still a great bit of uncertainty coming out of Raleigh and the budget hasn’t been finalized,” said Coffey. “At the very least I think we’re going to face more cuts, which will mean a lot less funding from Raleigh.”
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chair Jamezetta Bedford agreed.
“We don’t know what the state is going to do but it won’t be good,” said Bedford. “Our TA allotment is also the most critical piece that could be cut, well over 50 positions in the State Senate proposed budget. So this increase in taxes really will help us.”
Board of Commissioners Chair Barry Jacobs reminded the audience that the two school districts have seen a combined loss of $42 million in state funding in the past five years.
The 2014-2015 county budget goes in to effect July 1. Legislators are still hashing out the final version of the state budget.