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BOCC passes 2020-2021 budget, hears sheriff's equity report at June 16 meeting

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An Orange County Commissioner clicks his pen at a previous Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2019.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners held a virtual business meeting Tuesday where they approved Orange County's fiscal year 2020-21 operating budget. 

At the meeting, the Board also discussed Small Business Program modifications, amendments to the Orange County Solid Waste Ordinance and a potential community forum on racial justice and equity.

The Board unanimously passed the FY 2020-21 Budget Ordinance, the FY 2020-21 County Grant Projects and the FY 2020-21 County Fee Schedule.

The Board voted unanimously to approve the first year of the Orange County Capital Investment Plan Projects. In September, they will further refine and approve the next four years to create a five-year CIP.  

Sheriff Charles Blackwood delivered a report on policing, racial justice and equity in Orange County. 

“As a law enforcement leader, I must accept that I am part of the problem of systemic racism,” Blackwood said. 

Blackwood said he welcomes the newly generated interest by people in Orange County in the work of the sheriff’s department, and hopes it forces everyone to be urgent about making longstanding change that can prevent the events of George Floyd’s murder from happening to someone else.

Blackwood told the Board he wants to redirect approximately $900,000 intended for a sheriff’s office mobile command center towards helping people in serious mental health crisis, possibly through hiring a licensed clinical social worker to be housed in the sheriff office's community resource division crisis center.

The money would also be used to host specialized training, not just for Orange County sheriff’s deputies, but for any law enforcement officers in North Carolina who wanted to attend.

The Board also discussed a resolution proposed by outgoing commissioners Mark Dorosin and Mark Marcoplos on a potential community forum regarding policing, racial justice and equity.

Price said she would abstain from voting on the forum because despite her agreement with the forum's intent, she had concerns about the forum having an equal partnership with the sheriff's office, but lacking an equal partnership with communities of color.

“I don’t see any evidence of people of color being involved in the planning of this forum, and yet it is supposed to be about racism and racial equity,” she said.

The Board has not planned the community forum yet and will have to continue discussion on the procedures of the potential forum and how the community can be involved.

The Small Business Program Modifications, which included closing the Orange County Emergency Small Business Funding Program and recommending to enhance policies to disburse funds from the program, were recommended to the Board by Gary Donaldson, the county's chief financial officer, and approved unanimously. 

The Board was also recommended to approve the transfer of the remaining balance of $510,000 from the Small Business bank account to the County’s bank account. Of the $510,000, $410,000 would be used to fund Small Business Emergency Grants.

The Small Business Loan Board also recommended the Board make existing and subsequent loans have zero interest and establish a Small Business Fund.

Robert Williams, the department head of Orange County's solid waste management, delivered the recommendation to the Board to approve a proposed amendment to the Orange County Solid Waste Ordinance authorizing up to 36 cubic feet of construction and demolition debris to be delivered to four of five waste and recycling centers in Orange County. 

Commissioner Earl McKee offered an amendment to increase the limit of 36 cubic feet to 60 cubic feet, with a resolution to look at the data a year from now to determine how many cubic feet is normally used by non-commercial residents to dispose of construction and demolition debris. 

Commissioner Renee Price, the Board’s vice-chair, seconded McKee’s amendment, as well as commissioners Sally Greene and Jamezetta Bedford.

The Board unanimously reappointed Lee Storrow to a second term on the Durham Technical Community College Board of Trustees. 

The Board will meet next on Sept. 1. 

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