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Board approves budget; education spending increases by $187 per student

The Orange County Board of Commissioners adopted its 2019-20 budget Tuesday night. The budget sets the countywide property tax rate at 86.79 cents, an increase of 1.75 cents from the current fiscal year. It marks only the third countywide property tax increase in the past 11 years for county residents.

Revenue from the property tax increase will pay additional costs related to debt service and county operations and to create a fund for projects that will address the issue of climate change.

The adopted General Fund budget of $237,121,822 was approved by the board on a vote of 6-1.

The commissioners appropriated $113,480,859 to the two school districts, including $17.8 million in school-related debt service, $3 million in deferred maintenance funding and $3.6 million to provide School Resource Officers in every middle and high school and School Nurses in every elementary, middle and high school. Total funding for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Orange County Schools increased by 4.0 percent from the current year.
During budget deliberations, the Board of Commissioners added $250,000 to the county contribution to public school funding, increasing the per pupil contribution to $4,352.25 per student, which is one of the highest in the state and an increase of $187.25 per pupil from 2018-19.

“The budget achieves the Board of Commissioners’ primary goals by investing in public education, affordable housing and our employees, who deliver critical services to our residents every day,” said Orange County Chair Penny Rich.
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Process for Allocating quarter-cent Tax Increase
Dedicated to Climate Change Mitigation

The Board of Orange County Commissioners (BOCC) have received several communications asking how the quarter-cent property tax increase dedicated to Climate Change Mitigation will be allocated. The BOCC directed the County Manager as part of their approval process to develop options and a process through which funds will be authorized.

The County Manager has directed staff to develop options over the summer for the Board's review in September. Those options will address the focus of spending, the incorporation of social justice and racial equity goals, the role of various advisory committees, as well as the BOCC’s own approval framework.

Application window closes June 24 for new
OC Local Rent Supplement Program

The Orange County Local Rent Supplement Program (OC-LRSP) is a new rental subsidy (voucher) program approved by the Board of County Commissioners and administered by the Orange County Housing Authority. The OC-LRSP was created to further the County’s efforts to expand affordable housing opportunities for local residents. It is available to Orange County residents only.

The OC-LRSP is NOT the same program as the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV)/Section 8 Program that has a separate Waiting List, which remains closed. A person currently on the HCV/Section 8 Waiting List CAN apply for the OC-LRSP.

To be eligible to apply for the new rental subsidy, an applicant’s household income must be at or below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for Orange County. The amount of the subsidy/voucher will be based on household size. There are also a limited number of security and utility deposit grants that can be provided subject to the availability of funds and at the sole discretion of Orange County.

A random lottery will be used to select households from the Waiting List with priority given to the following populations: 
  • Homeless Individuals
  • Homeless Families including those who have children in Child Protective Services
  • Persons at Risk of Homelessness, including those who have children in Child Protective Services
  • Senior/Elderly and Disabled Individuals
  • Victims of Domestic Violence
  • Persons Displaced Due to an Urgent Community Need (such as a manufactured home park closure)
Placement on the Waiting List does not guarantee that the applicant will receive an OC-LRSP rental subsidy. Unemployed applicants selected to receive a subsidy will be referred to the County’s Orange Works Employment and Training Center for employment opportunities and self-sufficiency programs.

The application period for the Waiting List will close at Midnight on Monday, June 24.  The application will be available ON-LINE ONLY at  All applicants must have an active email address to apply.

If help is needed to access the on-line application, please contact your housing advocate, caseworker or the Orange County Department of Housing and Community Development at 919-245-2490 or 919-245-2484. Computers are available at the public libraries located in Hillsborough, Carrboro and Chapel Hill. 

Orange County to host an up-close experience with the Chapel Hill Nine

The Orange County Department on Aging invite the public to a presentation by the Chapel Hill Nine.

The event will take place on Wednesday, June 26, at 11 a.m. at the Seymour Center, located at 2551 Homestead Road in Chapel Hill.

In the spirit of Juneteenth, the Chapel Hill Nine will share their liberating moment that took place in 1960 during the segregation period. Four of the remaining nine history makers will share their stories and experiences the day they decided to sit down and demand service at the Colonial Drugstore lunch counter in Chapel Hill.

At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will have the opportunity to meet and greet these brave men and history makers over light refreshments and to take photos.

The event is free and open to the public.
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The four living members of the Chapel Hill Nine standing at the site of the former Colonial Drug on West Franklin Street. Albert Williams, David Mason, Jr., Jim Merritt and Clyde Perry. Photo by: LEONEDA INGE /WUNC
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Orange County Animal Services reminds pet owners to exercise caution during hot weather

Orange County Animal Services reminds residents to be mindful of pets during the hot temperatures that arrive with our summer season. This weekend, temperatures in our area will reach 90 degrees. Knowing the dangers for pets is a critical part of responsible pet ownership.

One of the biggest areas for concern is people leaving pets inside cars during summer months. Temperatures inside parked vehicles can reach deadly levels in minutes, even if parked in the shade and even with all the windows cracked. In Orange County, it is against the law to leave animals inside a parked car if the outside temperature is 70 degrees or higher. Because pets cannot sweat, their bodies cannot regulate temperature like humans, and they can go into irreversible organ failure that is often fatal inside a car or other overly heated environment.

Other dangers are also present during extreme heat, including pets who do not have access to fresh water and shade. Walking pets in these temperatures is not advised, as the heat can cause heatstroke and the pavement can cause quick damage to the feet of walked pets. Temperatures of these kinds are even harder on senior pets and pets with medical conditions.

For more information on the dangers of hot cars, please visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website. The ASPCA also offers more general information about hot weather dangers for pets at
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