During its Tuesday night meeting in the Whitted Building in Hillsborough, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners discussed increases in property and sales tax revenue and the Greene Tract.
- A presentation from the Finance and Administrative Services Department indicated that after the last fiscal year, Orange County is in strong financial standing.
- Property taxes increased by almost $6.8 million from 2022 to 2023, and accounted for almost 70 percent of revenue for the county. Sales tax revenue also increased by just over $5.4 million.
Tim Lyons, a partner of accounting firm Mauldin & Jenkins, said increasing real estate prices have been the main contributor to the increase.
- “Even without any increases in tax rates, property tax revenues continued to climb,” he said.
- Intergovernmental revenue, which can contribute to department grant programs, decreased in 2023 by almost six percent. Lyons said this was due to COVID-19 relief funding programs beginning to taper off.
- A new master plan and design proposal was presented for the Greene Tract on Rogers Road.
The new plan proposes inclusion of residential, non-residential and community uses, as well as landscaping and recreation improvements. Developing the designs for these resources will cost $155,000, and the master plan is set to be completed in 10 months.
- “It seems like we've been talking about this for a very long time, and there's been all kinds of studies and all kinds of things as you laid out,” commissioner Anna Richards said. “And this is not going to get us to a final plan.”
- Public speaker Robert Campbell expressed support for the County prioritizing community engagement in discussions of the Greene Tract. He said community involvement with engineer experts, regarding plans for development of the Greene Tract, has helped shape plans for best use of the land area.
- “I think the engineer design will bring forth a package at the end of our community engagement that will show that it was worth the funding to have that conversation or community engagement with experts at the table,” he said.
- The new plan proposes inclusion of residential, non-residential and community uses, as well as landscaping and recreation improvements. Developing the designs for these resources will cost $155,000, and the master plan is set to be completed in 10 months.
The Solid Waste Department also presented a draft of a master plan to become zero-waste by 2045.
Jennifer Porter, the sustainability officer at Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, a solid waste management consultant firm, said the plan would evaluate current recycling at sites, such as Eubanks Road, and determine what improvements or additions could be made.
- “What we heard is that the County has a lot of things that are going well in terms of its solid waste program, but there's also a significant desire for innovation,” Porter said.
- Some members of the BOCC thought the County was already taking measures to combat the waste issue and that the additional costs of improvements were unnecessary, while some community members voiced concerns that the County was not taking adequate measures.
- The commission is undecided on which scenario of the plan is best fit for the County, and whether or not the County should postpone implementing the plan.
- Jennifer Porter, the sustainability officer at Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, a solid waste management consultant firm, said the plan would evaluate current recycling at sites, such as Eubanks Road, and determine what improvements or additions could be made.
- The proposal to move forward with a professional services contract for a Greene Tract master plan passed unopposed.
- Motor vehicle and property tax refunds, late applications for property tax exemption, an amendment to the Orange County fiscal year 2024 Work Program and enhanced voluntary agricultural district designation were all approved during the meeting.
- The BOCC will meet again on Feb. 20 in the Southern Human Services Center in Chapel Hill at 7 p.m.