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Posted on: February 10, 2020

Commissioners approve two projects for climate tax funding

Board of Orange County Commissioners 2019

The Orange County Board of Commissioners approved two initiatives at its Feb. 4, meeting to receive funding from the Climate Change Tax that was added to the county budget for 2019-20. The Board authorized $150,000 towards weatherization of homes for lower income people and $19,272 to provide LED light bulbs for those who can’t afford them.

As part of the FY 2019- 20 budget, the Board of Orange County Commissioners authorized an additional 1/4 cent property tax to provide an estimated $469,272 dedicated to accelerating climate change mitigation through the new Climate Change Mitigation Project in the Capital Investment Plan.

When the tax was authorized, the BOCC stated that it would decide the final prioritization of projects to be funded, and the Board requested that the Commission for the Environment (CFE) provide feedback on prospective projects in advance of BOCC review. The BOCC has emphasized the need to consider racial equity first, so that those who benefit most directly from the proposed action are the people who most need assistance. With that in mind, the Board directed staff to develop a project scoring formula for the CFE to use while completing its initial project ranking. 

Staff developed an initial list of climate change mitigation projects and then created the requested scoring formula based on six key criteria:

  • racial equity
  • emissions reduced
  • efficient use of funds
  • time to complete
  • ease of understanding/messaging/visibility
  • likelihood of success

The weatherization project would focus primarily on providing additional energy efficiency assistance to Orange County residents with manufactured homes and homes already being repaired under existing programs in partnership with the Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition, Orange County Home Preservation Coalition, and Orange County Housing and Community Development.

The LED Campaign would connect with Orange County residents primarily through partnering with the Low Income Energy Assistance Program of the Department of Social Services as well as the Family Success Alliance and its affiliated non-profits.

The board deferred action on two rooftop solar projects, one each in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Orange County Schools systems.

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