The budgeting process for Orange County is underway.

The tax rate in the county is going down under the proposed budget put forward by county manager Bonnie Hammersley presented to the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday night.

But there will still be some residents who see their overall tax bill go up, even under the new lower rate, because of the property revaluation carried out for the first time in eight years in accordance with state law. The revaluation saw an increase in property values across the county.

School funding takes up 48.8 percent of the general fund revenues in the recommended budget, which exceeds the commissioners’ goal of 48.1 percent.
Last year’s approved budget allocated 50.1 percent of the general fund toward school funding.

The per-pupil spending for the two districts in the county is increasing by $123 to nearly $4,000 per student, which officials say is a greater increase than the average over the last 10 years.

The budget also sets aside funding for three new bus routes for Orange Public Transportation. Six new OPT drivers are also funded in the recommendation.

Two positions are also funded to work toward affordable housing goals in the county, including consolidating pathways for residents to apply for and receive funding.

One other initiative funded in the recommendation is being billed as a competitive need in the county. If approved by commissioners, the new budget would provide six weeks of parental leave for county employees who have a new child by birth, adoption or guardianship. Several other municipalities and counties across the Triangle have adopted similar measures in recent months.

Public hearings on the budget are scheduled for May 11 and 18. Work sessions will then be held on May 25, June 1, 8 and 15. The board is then anticipated to adopt the budget on June 20.

You can review more information related to the budget recommendation on the county’s website.