The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 28th

Town Talk

Commissioners continue to pursue water and sewer district

In a meeting Tuesday the Orange County Board of County Commissioners discussed how sales taxes were being allocated. 

This idea is encompassed within Article 46, which was the first item on the commissioners'  agenda.

Article 46 is a referendum approved in November 2011. According to the meeting's agenda, this article "will levy a supplemental one-quarter cent sales tax that generates approximately $2.5 million in additional annual funding for education and economic development purposes.” The funding is split evenly between education and economic development.

Paul Laughton, the Orange County chief financial officer, began the presentation with the educational expenses. He said about half of Carrboro and Chapel Hill’s educational funds go toward technology and the other half go toward classroom and site improvements. 

The economic development funding was broken down into seven categories: debt service on infrastructure, collaborative outreach, collateral materials, innovation center, agricultural economic development, small business investment grants and the small business loan program.

Craig Benedict, Orange County director of planning and inspections, said water and sewer projects take up most of the 60 percent allocated to the debt service on infrastructure. One that is in the future is the new water and sewer provision for a district in Durham. Benedict said this project might be in the distant future. 

“We’re not giving up on this district yet,” Benedict said. “Sometimes it’s a timing issue and if (the plan is) used in 10 or 20 years, at least we planned ahead.”

The floor was then turned over to Steve Brantley, the Orange County director of economic development, who discussed the other categories in the economic development category. 

Brantley said collaborative outreach and collateral materials use 1.5 percent of funds each, the innovation center – which includes Launch Chapel Hill – uses 8 percent, agricultural economic development uses 5 percent, small business investment grants use 8 percent and the small business loan program uses 16 percent. 

Brantley said all of the percentages are subject to change if the board sees fit.

Muriel Williman of Orange County Solid Waste Management gave a presentation on waste diversion, or recycling and composting.

“It's not zero waste, but it is extreme waste diversion,” Williman said. “If you are recycling and composting, it is still waste being managed.”

Williman and her team of volunteers offer help to venues, large and small, that want to reduce their waste. They offer assistance in sorting waste, managing waste containers, collection and equipment at the event and loaning reusable materials.

For a small hourly cost, they will take care of all your waste reduction needs to help you be more environmentally friendly.


The board was asked for direction on whether there should be a water and sewer district that would have a separate legal existence that the county commissioners would govern. The board came to the conclusion that a water and sewer district should continue to be pursued and that residents of the future district should be informed of the many pros of the project, which would include a lower water rate.


“When it comes to garbage, you want someone who is interested in trash free, you want someone who is interested in recycling,” Williman said.


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