The board’s vice-chairman Earl McKee said the budget was well thought out, but it failed to accommodate cuts to education made by the state. The commissioners voted to raise property taxes by two cents, raising the overall tax to 87.8 cents per $100 of assessed value, according to the approved budget.
The added tax revenue will be given to Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Orange County Schools. Interim County Manager Michael Talbert said an additional $3.276 million would come out of the tax and go to the schools, although he did not know what exactly it would be used for.
“I expect they’ll use it to supplant funding that has been cut by the state,” he said. “They have a lot of latitude for how they spend.”
McKee said of the $200 million budget, almost $98 million would go to schools, which amounts to nearly 49 percent.
Talbert said this complied with the county’s goal to have 48.1 percent of the budget go toward education. He said he was proud the county has met their target for several years.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools will receive more of the money overall than Orange County Schools, according to the budget.
Talbert said he did not monitor how the schools used the money given to them, as it was not strictly regulated by the county.
According to the budget, more than $72 million of the $97 million allotted will go toward current expenses of the two school systems. Of this, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools will receive more than $44 million, while Orange County Schools will be given more than $28 million.
The rest of the money will be divided among fields including school-related debt service, recurring capital and school nurses and resource officers.
McKee said he thought the tax was an important way to adjust to state policies, but was concerned about people with moderate incomes. He said he originally asked for a 1.5 cent increase then tried to compromise with 1.75 cents.
While he acknowledged the need for a tax increase, he said it can often get out of hand.
“I have concerns of the sustainability of continuing tax increases,” McKee said.
One of his main concerns was the town of Chapel Hill often increases taxes at the same time as the county. Chapel Hill increased its sales tax by one cent this year.
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