The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday December 5th

Aldermen change eligibility for Community Home Trust aid, discuss early voting options

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to increase the income range of residents eligible for aid from a local organization that works to help first-time home owners.

Community Home Trust helps first-time home buyers who typically earn less than 80 percent of the median income, about $43,400 for a household of two.

Robert Dowling, executive director of the trust, said the range of incomes the organization serves hasn’t increased since 2003 and decreased 5 percent in 2010.

Increasing the limit would allow the trust to serve those with relatively higher incomes who still need help.

“We’ll be serving the same number of houses, but widening the bracket of who we serve,” Dowling said.

Alderman Randee Haven-O’Donnell said the income bracket had been too restricted, and increasing eligibility would change this.

“We’d be keeping the community economically diverse,” Haven-O’Donnell said. “Obviously we’ve got ends, but to lose that middle would be terrible.”

Alderman Sammy Slade said there would be fewer homeowners under the 80 percent limit when the new income range is imposed since more higher income families would qualify.

Dowling acknowledged this trade-off.

The aldermen also discussed options for early voting in the fall.

Early voting costs the town $9,000 in addition to the nearly $7,000 cost for normal voting, Carrboro Town Manager Steve Stewart said.

Aldermen considered holding the early voting sessions at the Carrboro Town Hall, so they would need to look into alternative locations to hold the board meeting that Tuesday.

Alderman Jacquelyn Gist said she supported having early voting on a Saturday morning during the farmer’s market to make the process more convenient for voters.

In other business, the question of the government’s involvement in the private sector was raised when the aldermen considered modifying their existing loan agreement with Cycle 9, a bicycle shop in Carrboro.

The modification would allow Cycle 9 to substitute real estate for inventory and equipment as collateral on an existing loan from the town to the store that was made in March 2009.

Alderman Dan Coleman supported the request with the provision that the town’s manager and attorney come up with a solution to provide real security to the loan, outside of the collateral of the bicycle merchandise.

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton agreed that the loan’s collateral, Cycle 9’s inventory, needs more security.

“It’s always possible that there won’t be collateral when you need it.”

The request passed by a 5-1 margin, with Alderman Lydia Lavelle being the sole dissenter. Alderman Joal Hall Broun was absent.

“I support local businesses, but I just don’t feel comfortable going this far as a town,” Lavelle said.

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