Orange eyes real-estate tax hike


Interim Orange County Administrator R. Bryan David is proposing an 8-cent real-estate tax rate increase to help fund the coming fiscal year’s budget.

The proposed tax rate of 80.4 cents per $100 of assessed value would bring in an additional $3.1 million in revenue.

The budget David proposed to the Board of Supervisors Thursday night totals $93.1 million, up $5.7 million, or 6.5 percent, over the current spending plan.

Supervisor Lee Frame said while the budget is the first David has presented since being named interim administrator, he is not responsible for the proposed tax increase.

“I want to make sure everybody knows that it’s not the new administrator, it is past decisions that have sort of set him up for this,” Frame said. “He has done a good job of putting this together in terms of priorities.”

David said the only ways available to increase revenues to balance the budget were to cut spending, make investments to boost the economy and expand the county’s tax base, or to raise taxes. Like the current budget, his plan does not dip into the county’s reserves.

“In some past years,” said board Chairman Teel Goodwin, “we used the fund balance to help us get through without raising the taxes that we really needed to raise because of the situation of the economy.”

The largest portion of the budget supports the school operating fund, at $47.66 million, while the general fund encompasses almost $23 million. The schools budget includes $250,000 in operating expenses necessary to reopen the former Locust Grove Middle School as an elementary school.

David said the major budget challenge in the fiscal year that begins July 1 is the escalating need to fund previously deferred capital needs, particularly in public safety, replacement vehicles and solid waste disposal.

Supervisor Jim White agreed.

“We find that this year, we are almost in a double whammy situation,” White said. “An ambulance is a good example. We are having to not only make the replacement, but we have to put in place the funding mechanism to make the subsequent replacement.

“And we have to do that all now. Otherwise, the problem just continues and comes up again. And there are any number of examples like that, so we are going to be juggling and setting priorities.”

David thanked members of county staff for helping him prepare the budget, and added a caveat.

“This is only my opinion,” he told the supervisors. “You will have five opinions, and we will now need to get to at least a majority.”

Dan McFarland:

Source: The Free-Lance Star


Orange eyes real-estate tax hike | The News Desk.