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The Daily Tar Heel

Orange County Board of County Commissioners discusses school bond referendum, housing

BOCC meeting graphic-05.png

On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners met to discuss funding for Orange County Schools and housing projects.

What’s new?

  • The board unanimously voted to declare May 2024 as Mental Health Awareness Month in Orange County. Board member Anna Richards introduced the topic, reading the proclamation.
    • “To shine a light on mental health and the need for long-term improvements in our mental health care system, and improved access to care so no one feels alone,” she said.
  • The board also unanimously voted to declare May 19 through May 25 as Emergency Medical Services Week in Orange County, marking the 50th anniversary of EMS Week. Board member Phyllis Portie-Ascott announced the proclamation.
    • “The members of emergency medical services teams, whether career or volunteer, engage in thousands of hours of specialized training and continuing education to enhance their life-saving skills,” she said.
    • Kim Woodward, the Orange County EMS division chief, said Orange County’s EMS responded to over 23,000 calls for service in 2023.
  • Kirk Vaughn, the Orange County budget director, gave a presentation on the proposed $300 million school bond referendum for the November 2024 ballot.
    • The bond would follow initiatives to consolidate OCS. These include expanding Spanish dual-language programs and constructing new schools to eliminate the utility costs and inefficiencies of older facilities.
    • Dwayne Foster, the OCS chief operations officer, said some of OCS’s goals with the bond are to improve educational adequacy, tackle high-priority facility needs and use staff knowledge for recommendations. 
      • “These items give the opportunity for our school leaders and staff to really focus on educating students, and not having to address any maintenance needs or facility issues,” he said.
  • Blake Rosser, the Orange County interim housing director, gave a presentation regarding Orange County’s Annual Action Plan for the 2024-25 fiscal year and the Orange County HOME Consortium. 
    • CASA of Orange County, a nonprofit organization that supports abused and abandoned children, will receive around $222,000 to fund its Cedar Village housing development. 
    • The Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness, a coalition of service providers, local government and community members that advocate for housing, will receive around $136,000 to fund its Rapid Rehousing program.
  • Gary Donaldson, the Orange County chief finance officer, gave a presentation about a financing resolution for the county’s capital investment plan projects.
    • The collateral package for loans taken out by the county has been amended to comprise of facilities including the Whitted Human Services Building, Orange County Library and Hillsborough Elementary School. 
    • Since lenders require the value of the collateral to be equal to at least 50 percent of the loan amount, Donaldson said, the collateral package exceeds lender requirements.
    • Richards said the additional collateral gives the county a cushion to be flexible in its spending and borrowing for investment projects. 
  • Vaughn presented a budget amendment to capital reallocation for OCS.
    • He said OCS requests that funding be reallocated from its pool to additional schools, including Orange High School, New Hope Elementary School and Efland Cheeks Elementary School.

What decisions were made?

  • The board voted unanimously to authorize the submission of the Annual Action Plan for the 2024-25 fiscal year and the proposed HOME projects. 
  • The board voted unanimously to approve the financing resolution for the county’s capital investment plan projects. 
  • The board voted unanimously to approve capital reallocation for OCS.

What’s next?

  • The BOCC will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, June 4, at 7 p.m.

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