Alice Gordon

Long-time OC Commissioner Alice Gordon Won’t Seek Re-Election

ORANGE COUNTY – Long-time Orange County Commissioner Alice Gordon announced Thursday that she does not intend to seek another term in office. “I thought it was time,” she says. “I had really accomplished most of what I set out to do…so I made my announcement in time to give other people a chance to consider running.” Listen to Aaron Keck’s interview with Alice Gordon on the WCHL Thursday Afternoon News. Listen to Aaron Keck’s interview with Alice Gordon on the WCHL Thursday Afternoon News. Gordon has served on the Board of County Commissioners since 1990; she’s stepping down after...

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BoCC Eyes CHCCS District Tax, Not Property Tax, For School Funding

CHAPEL HILL- Orange County Commissioners signaled on Thursday that they’re looking for more money to fund public schools, but they stopped short of supporting a countywide property tax rate increase. “As much as I believe in a strong school system, raising the taxes, personally I believe we have to really have to take a deep look at that, because the rate of poverty is increasing so dramatically in Orange County,” said Renee Price. In the past two weeks, dozens of residents have  come out to public hearings to ask commissioners to allocate more money for the school systems. But some commissioners worried that those who can’t afford a tax increase have not had a voice in the debate. Penny Rich said she’s been hearing from residents who did not feel comfortable speaking out on the issue. “They are very passionate about schools but they just can’t afford any more taxes,” said Rich. “We can make the schools better by raising taxes, but they won’t be part of it, they would have to move.” Commissioners did indicate they might be willing to increase the Chapel Hill-Carrboro special district tax to help raise the $2 million needed to open the new Northside Elementary. “We do have a precedent for opening schools in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools on the district tax, so I think as we’re balancing all these different needs, we...

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OC Commissioners Commit to Culbreth Labs, But Other Projects Face Delays

CHAPEL HILL- Orange County Commissioners on Thursday re-prioritized the five-year capital spending plan in order to kick-start construction on a nearly $5 million dollar science wing for Culbreth Middle School. “In terms of it being the right thing to do, these labs have been needed for a long, long time,” said Commissioner Alice Gordon, who has been a staunch supporter of the project. No formal vote was taken, but board members signaled that they are prepared to spend $600,000 in the next fiscal year and approximately $4.3 million over the next three years to build the six classroom expansion. Chapel Hill-Carrboro Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese told the board that the extra space will delay the need build a new middle school by at least two years. “The addition would result in the increase of school capacity of 104 students, which based on the current SAPFO projections would push the need back two years at this point in time,” said LoFrese. But in order to stay under the county’s debt limit, construction funds for the Southern Branch Library will also be delayed. Though commissioners agreed to spend $600,000 next year on land acquisition, the $7 million needed to build the library would not be available until 2017. The push to build a science wing for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district met with push back from Board Chair Barry Jacobs,...

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CH May Hike Prop Taxes This Year; OC And Carrboro May Not

Officials in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Orange County are gearing up for another round of difficult budget talks—and although the economy may be on the rebound, County Manager Frank Clifton says local governments still have no more money to work with than they did five years ago. “We’re at 2008 levels–and actually the county’s budget in 2008 (was) greater than it is today,” Clifton says. “That’s the reality: the tax base for the county is not much different today than it was in 2008.” Still, Orange County officials say they’re hopeful they can get through another two-year budget cycle without raising property taxes. “You have to balance (priorities) out,” says Orange County Commissioner Alice Gordon, “but I think going into the budget process, we’re going to try not to raise the general property tax rate.” And while town governments too are anticipating some difficult budget decisions, officials in Carrboro say they’re also confident they can avoid raising taxes on residents this year. “Just kind of speaking in generalities, our goal this year is to present a no-tax-increase budget,” says Carrboro Assistant Town Manager Matt Efird. “And the preliminary budget thus far does not include a tax increase.” But it’s a different story in Chapel Hill, where officials are dealing with a variety of unique budget challenges—and as a result, Town Manager Roger Stancil says a tax increase may be...

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Library Planning, New Tech and EMS Upgrades Top OC Spending Plan

CHAPEL HILL- Orange County Commissioners on Tuesday took a first look at a plan to spend $209 million in capital investment projects over the next five years. County leaders plan to spend $18.7 million in the next fiscal year on a host of projects including a library branch, communications and technology upgrades and improvements to the EMS system. County Manager Frank Clifton told the board many of the projects on the list are the culmination of years of planning. “Some of these projects are eight, nine, ten years old, and they’re moving forward incrementally,” said Clifton. “We’ve made a concerted effort to take projects that were at one time someone’s vision and put them into reality in the past several years. Rather than take on a lot of new projects, do something about projects we’ve committed to in the past.” The plan sets aside $600,000 next year for design and land purchases to build a Southern Branch Library in or around Carrboro. The full project is slated to cost $8 million. Next year’s plan also calls for $875,000 to build a stand-alone EMS station, but Commissioner Earl McKee argued that might not be necessary, given that the Orange Rural Volunteer Fire Department has agreed to co-locate an ambulance at its Phelps Road station. “I will be advocating to push back or remove that first year EMS station completely, under the reasoning that the Phelps Road...

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