The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday December 7th

Aldermen Decide To Pursue Subsidies

Several aldermen have some reservations about supporting Alderman Mark Dorosin's subsidy proposals.

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen decided at its regular business meeting Tuesday night to investigate community interest and financing options for a housing subsidy program proposed by Alderman Mark Dorosin.

"(Living in the town) helps strengthen relationships between the entity of the town and the citizens," Dorosin said.

Of the 137 employees that work in Carrboro, 18 live in the town -- 13 percent.

Dorosin has submitted four different plans for the housing subsidy proposal, including the Individual Development Accounts program, in which the town will match funds saved by individual employees.

Several aldermen backed Dorosin's proposals with slight reservation.

Alderman Diana McDuffee asked Dorosin what the next steps would be and requested more information, but said she wanted to move forward with the plan.

"I think it's really worth exploring," McDuffee said.

But McDuffee said she was concerned about the town taking responsibility for employees' housing.

"I hesitate to want to see us in the position of holding a second mortgage on someone's home," she said.

Alderman Joal Broun also said she was concerned about taking such a big responsibility. She said she was not sure if the town had the financial capabilities to fund the program.

"I think it's a great idea," Broun said. "The cons are in funding it and setting it up properly so we won't be in the business of foreclosing on employees' properties.

"The ability to do it will be our largest and greatest challenge."

Alderman Jacquelyn Gist proposed a collaboration with Chapel Hill, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools System and Carrboro to prevent future tax increases that could be implemented to fund the program.

"I feel uncomfortable making it difficult for one group of people to live in Carrboro to make it easier for others," Gist said. "I think theoretically it's a good idea. It's a way to bring and keep good people in our staff."

Gist said the three governing bodies could work through a local organization such as the Orange Community Housing Corporation to look at ways to solve this problem.

Alderman Allen Spalt said that because of rising property costs, some town employees simply could not afford to live in Carrboro.

"The price of a lot has doubled in Carrboro over the last 15 years," Spalt said. "I worry that the price (of housing) has escalated so that it will take more than just a little bit of help."

A typical lot costs between $40,000 and $50,000.

Spalt said that if employees lived in the town, they could take advantage of the system schools and be closer to work.

Even though the findings of the research being conducted for each plan will not be ready until next month, Dorosin said he hopes to get the project under way within this budget cycle.

"I'm interested in seeing this thing move forward as quickly as possible."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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