The towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro sought community input this week with two public hearings on their proposed budgets for the fiscal year 2013-14.
Between proposed tax increases and reduced library hours in Chapel Hill and new parking options in Carrboro, local citizens had plenty to speak up about.
Chapel Hill residents focus on library hours
At a hearing Monday, Chapel Hill residents raised a number of issues, including youth services and funding for the Chapel Hill Public Library.
The proposed budget includes a 2-cent tax increase, a 2-percent pay adjustment for town employees to be implemented in October and funds for hauling solid waste to Durham, among other costs.
Some citizens voiced concerns about the need for greater youth services in Chapel Hill, such as an improved teen center.
“Without the support of the town and dedicated program funding, it is difficult to service the youth as deserved,” said Gabby Abrams of Chapel Hill.
Many speakers also encouraged returning weekly library hours from 54 to the pre-renovation rate of 68.
Evelyn Daniel, a volunteer tour guide and member of the Chapel Hill Library Board of Trustees, commented on the benefits lost by cutting the library’s hours.
“The library stands empty 14 hours a week when it used to be open,” Daniel said. “We know from many economic studies that one tax dollar invested in a public library returns five or six times that amount in direct economic benefit to the community.”
Chapel Hill resident Karen Curtin spoke about her 17-year-old son who, after being recruited to move books to the new library space, began going there regularly to study with friends.
“The library is a gathering place for the town of Chapel Hill,” Curtin said. “What other place do we have in Chapel Hill where every single person can have a need met? There’s no other place in this town that has that.”
Carrboro citizens discuss parking and housing
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen heard citizen feedback on its proposed $28.3 million budget for the coming year.
Proposed in Carrboro’s budget are such items as a 1.9-percent pay adjustment for town employees and new sidewalk projects.
Carrboro resident Heidi Perry spoke about the need for upkeep of the town’s new parking lot, as well as adequate space for bicycle parking.
“If you really want people to arrive by bike … this would be a good time to think about that,” Perry said.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting was Community Home Trust director Robert Dowling.
Dowling spoke to aldermen about the benefits of funding Community Home Trust, which provides low-income people in Orange County with reduced-cost homes.
Dowling said Carrboro has provided the nonprofit with $34,000 for the last five years. In the proposed budget for next year, the town manager has proposed $35,000.
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