The Orange County Board of Commissioners adopted the FY 2022-23 budget at its June 21 business meeting. The budget sets the property tax rate at 83.12 cents per $100 assessed valuation, an increase of 1.25 cents.
The property tax increase was needed to cover increased debt service payments and to provide additional funding to Orange County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school systems, said manager Bonnie Hammersley. One penny of the tax increase will go to the schools, while 0.25 cents will be used to pay for increased debt service payments, she said.
The budget sets Current Expense funding for the two school districts at $93.5 million, or $4,808 per pupil. The per pupil increase of $441 per student is the largest increase in county history.
In addition, the budget includes $25.5 million in additional education funding for school-related debt service and for a school nurse in every elementary, middle and high school and School Resource Officers in every middle and high school.
Other budget highlights include:
- Provided funding to restore Sunday operating hours at the Orange County Main Library in Hillsborough.
- 3% wage increase for all permanent employees, effective July 1, 2022
- Increasing the living wage for permanent employees to $15.85 and recognizing the 3% wage adjustment
- Implements a county-funded short-term disability program for eligible county employees
- Exceeded target of 1.2% of general fund (minus school expenditures) expenses on outside agency funding to 1.35%.
- Added $100,000 to the Capital Investment Plan for FY 22-23 to build a mini-park for the Perry Hills community
- Created 35.9 new FTEs, including 15 detention officers for the Sheriff’s Office
The total county general fund budget was $258.1 million, which includes $2.6 million of appropriated fund balance.
The Board’s effort to lessen the property tax burden on property owners is reflected by the split in residential/commercial property tax base. Hammersley said the percent of commercial property in the county tax base has increased to 20 percent from 16 percent five years ago.