County budget continues investments in education, affordable housing

ORANGE COUNTY (June 19, 2018) -- The Orange County Board of Commissioners adopted its 2018-19 budget Tuesday night. The budget sets the countywide property tax rate at 85.04 cents, an increase of 1.27 cents from the current fiscal year. It marks only the second countywide property tax increase in the past 10 years for county residents.

Orange County voters approved two bond referenda in November 2016 -- $120 million for public school capital needs and $5 million for affordable housing. Revenue from the tax increase will be used to pay debt service on the issuance of the first portion of these bonds.

“The Board maintained our commitment to public education and worked diligently to minimize the property tax increase needed to meet our obligations,” said Orange County Chair Mark Dorosin. County Manager Bonnie Hammersley had originally proposed a 1.42 cent increase and the commissioners cut the rate by .15 cents per $100 valuation.

The board exceeded its target of 48.1% of general fund revenues devoted to education. The board appropriated $109,141,519 to the two school districts, including $17.6 million in school-related debt service and another $3 million in one-time deferred maintenance funding, which was allocated to the school systems’ based on per pupil funding.

The county’s current expense contribution to the school systems amounts to $4,165 per student, which is one of the highest in the state and an increase of $174 from 2017-18.

The Board approved a local voucher program to supplement the county’s Housing Choice Voucher Fund to provide assistance to residents who are seeking affordable housing. The county currently has a waiting list of residents applying for support. Creating more affordable housing opportunities is a priority for the Board of Commissioners.

“These additional investments in affordable housing will help Orange County continue to be a diverse and welcoming place for all,” said Dorosin.

The budget includes a 2% across-the-board pay raise for county employees and sets minimum salary levels at $15 per hour for non-temporary employees and $14.25 per hour for temporary employees, consistent with the Orange County Living Wage Formula.

By the numbers

  • $226,754,953 – The General Fund budget.
  • 1.27 – Increase in cents in property tax rate. Revenue from the increase will be used to pay debt service on the voter-approved bonds for schools and affordable housing.
  • 4,165 – Dollars spent per pupil in local current expense funding, an increase of $174 per student from last year and either the first or second highest per pupil allotment in the state.