The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday October 19th

Officials Expect Bond Approval

But local officials are confident this will not deter voters from supporting this year's bond package.

Orange County Commissioner Barry Jacobs said he expects the bond to pass easily despite the potential tax increase because the money will primarily go toward education.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners allocated the largest portion, $47 million, of the bond toward new school construction and renovations. Funds for two senior centers, affordable housing and parks also are earmarked.

Jacobs said a 3-cent property tax increase did not hamper the passage of a $56 million dollar bond in 1997.

Orange County Finance Director Ken Chavious said the $75 million bond referendum, which was set by the Orange County Board of Commissioners last month, is the largest in the county's history. He said that if the bond passes, taxpayers will face a 7.1-cent to 7.5-cent property tax increase.

Chavious said for every 1-cent increase in the property tax, about $889,000 in total revenue is generated for Orange County. He said property taxes will go up as the bond programs are implemented, with the full tax increase effective in about three years.

"The tax rate will go up incrementally as the new schools are built," Chavious said. "We're not going to just increase the rate all at once."

Assistant County Manager Rod Visser said that last year various county groups requested more than $153 million in funds to be included in the bond.

But before the referendum reached the ballot, the board was forced to cut this amount to meet county budget guidelines.

Jacobs said finding a balance between what was affordable and what was needed by the county was a difficult task.

"Its a hard to make those decisions," he said. "But for the most part we have addressed the most pressing concerns."

David Thaden, principal of East Chapel Hill High School, said that although the referendum does not include a new high school in his district, he is supportive of how the bond has been allocated. "The most pressing need in the county is our elementary schools," he said, referring to the $25.6 million allocated for two new elementary schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools System. "There's nothing but growth in the future. Our need for additional (high) schools will not go away."

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

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