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The Daily Tar Heel

Orange County Commissioners discuss fiscal year 23-24 budget, propose amendments


The Chapel Hill Public Library pictured on Wednesday, March 29, 2023.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners met on June 1 for a public hearing regarding the 2023-24 budget and a work session. The work session included appointment discussions for various boards and commissions. All deliberation and voting on the items discussed will be done on June 8.

The current budget includes increased compensation for county employees and overall funding for education, a property tax increase and more. The budget can be found here and all proposed amendments can be found here. 

What's New? 

  • Fourteen budget amendment recommendations were introduced. The total monetary change from the recommended budget came up to $310,600.
    • Introduced budget amendments included adding funding to the Chapel Hill Public Library, reducing the tax rate and the creation of an Orange County Build Pilot Program. 
    • “This program would mirror the Durham Build Pilot Program which focuses on troubled youth that are justice-involved, and it’s a best practices model,” county manager Bonnie Hammersley said. Hammersley spoke on behalf of BOCC commissioner Anna Richards who was not present at the meeting. 
  • During the public comment period, community members urged the BOCC to continue focusing on affordable housing, and put money towards the schools and other youth programs. 
    • Students, parents and faculty from River Park Elementary School advocated the need for a full-time STEAM teacher for the school. 
    • Members of the group Fathers on the Move spoke to the board regarding the impact county funding has had on them and asked for more funding for the program. Fathers on the Move is a group that empowers and mentors young men as they transition from the juvenile justice system, according to the group's website.
    • Jamezetta Bedford, chair of the BOCC, said the board has no input on how school boards decide to use their per-pupil funding, and people looking to make changes should go directly to the school boards. 
  • Chapel Hill police chief Celisa Lehew and Chapel Hill Police Department crisis unit supervisor Sarah Belcher spoke at the meeting, encouraging the board to support the budget amendment for Orange County Build Pilot Program and the mobile crisis team pilot. 
    • OC Build is a program that would serve ‘high-risk, court-involved youth’ through intensive case management, counseling and mentoring, Lehew said.
    • “We have a strong need for this kind of intervention for young people, who are showing high-risk behavioral issues, particularly at an age where intervention is most needed in their lives to become successful adults,” she said. 
    • They also expressed support for the mobile crisis team pilot program, which would include a crisis counselor, a community paramedic and a peer support specialist. 
    • “Crisis intervention allows appropriately trained professionals to respond to people experiencing trauma, psychiatric emergencies and mental health issues — while allowing police officers to respond to more emergent calls,” Belcher said.  
  • The BOCC heard a presentation on the potential merging of the Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee and Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee. 
    • “Both of us are in agreement that this fits our immediate need in terms of numbers and manpower that it takes to visit the nursing homes and the adult care homes,” Jackie Podger, chair of the nursing home committee, said. “It will offer us a richer experience, all of the committee members in terms of really seeing a continuum of care.” 
    • Bedford said this issue will likely become part of the consent agenda at a later date. 
  • There were 20 board appointments and reappointments were made at the meeting. All appointments can be found on the meeting agenda. 

What’s next?

  • The next BOCC business meeting will be Tuesday, June 6 at 7 p.m at the Whitted Human Services Building.  


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