Recapping the County Commissioners' Budget Debate

James Barrett's picture

Here's the Storify from the Orange County Board of Commissioners' budget debate.

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James Barrett's picture

School board reaction

This is slightly edited to remove parts that would have been out of context, but published here with permission from Ms Bedford, chair of CHCCS board of education: Every commissioner, including Renee Price and Earl McKee, strongly supported funding for schools.  There was a slight variation with Renee and Earl supporting 1.75 cent increase in the ad valorem property tax along with $1,000,000.00 fund balance appropriation and the actual adopted intent of 2 cent increase with $911,124.00 fund balance appropriation.  The difference is only $320,684 which is very small in view of the total county and schools' budget.  Their concerns were focused on the taxpayers who struggle to pay their property taxes, to put food on the table and who are leaving to live in Durham and Alamance counties due to the cost of living.  I respect all of that and know that all 7 of our commissioners strongly support the public schools. Because I''m a CPA I know that while most in the county will see a state income tax decrease; however, retirees will no longer have a $2,000 state deduction against their retirement distributions and lower income parents will no longer have a state earned income credit and all of us will pay more in sales taxes which are less progressive.  It was good to see our commissioners engaged in direct discussion about all of these interests, weighing the needs of all citizens, acknowledging the harm from the general assembly and working together, listening to our parents and staff, to then fund both school systems at $314 more per pupil, while protecting the county fund balance at 17% to maintain the AAA credit rating which will save over $800,000 in the coming year as notes are refinanced.  Wow!  I too echo Jeff in thanking the PTSA members and PTA Council for voicing their concerns, attending meetings and public hearings.  Keep the emails going to NC House.  Jeff, your work and that of the PTA Council legislative committee, is not yet done.  Please let us know the conference committee members and their contact info so that we can advocate with them too.  It might not have any effect, but we cannot be silent and be assumed to be in agreement.  We have another week to go before we can stop advocating.Then, I want to let our parents and residents know the CHCCS board will be working on our budget July 1 and July 17 meetings at Lincoln Center starting at 7:00.  The July 1 meeting is new because there is so much new with state budgeting (even in the short year) that we need time to develop a full response after we have a state budget.  This is the time to advocate with our board of education as to how we spend the funds and what cuts must be made.  There will be a budget update June 19 too, but the work will be at the July meetings.  The public is always welcome at our meetings and can catch up  and watch via the internet if they miss one.  I am sure I am not the only one who has been losing sleep these past couple of weeks worried about our schools.  I am relieved and appreciative that the county taxpayers via the BOCC will be supporting our schools and I am hopeful the House budget version may prevail.  Thanks to all!Jamezetta Bedford, Chair CHCCS

James Barrett's picture

smoothness vs transparency

I don't know how the BoCC operates in regards to directing staff outside of meetings, but one way to view what happened is that the BoCC came up with options in real-time (in front of the public) rather than making decisions in the "back room".  Thus staff wasn't prepared for the options discussed.  For the most part, I think I'd rather have that transparency than trying to make everything look nice.

Mark Marcoplos's picture

Another way to look at it

How could these options only arise at the last minute? It seems so....."last-minute". Plus, it means that only those who attended the meeting were privy to the proposals and their impacts before the vote.