If approved as written, next year’s county budget will be the sixth in a row without a property tax rate increase, but Interim Orange County Manager Michael Talbert told the Board of Commissioners that streak can’t continue for much longer.
“This trend is not sustainable, obviously,” said Talbert. “There will be tax increases in the future.
The $195.6 million dollar budget is about 4.2 percent larger than last year’s, and it’s balanced using $8.5 million from the county’s fund balance. Talbert said the amount of reserve money required to balance the budget keeps going up each year.
“In 2010-2011, the Board appropriated $401,000 to balance the budget,” noted Talbert. “This year, it’s $8.5 million. A considerable difference, but the budget is balanced.”
The 2014-2015 budget includes money for a two percent cost of living and merit raise for county employees and funding for an engineering study to bring sewer service to Rogers Road.
When it comes to school spending, the budget proposal allocates $92.3 million, nearly three million more than last year, which amounts to an additional $95 per student or a total of $3,364 per pupil.
But the plan doesn’t fully fund the budget request from either school district. Board members have the option to raise the county-wide property tax rate or the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Special District tax rate to generate more money for schools.
Commissioners will host two public hearings on the budget scheduled for May 22 and 29. The final budget will be adopted by June 17.