bee installation at Harry's
May 2011 Newsletter
Dear Neighbor:

Cicadas are calling, "It's budget season."   It promises to be another tough year for Orange County and the entire state of North Carolina.  You've probably noticed that K-12 education and other priorities are facing difficult cuts from the state.  Orange County has its own plans, which appear headed toward new taxes and fees. 

 

So, here's the latest on budgets, taxes and other news in Orange County.   

In This Issue
County Budget May Mean More Taxes and Fees
The Latest on the Landfill Closing
Community Watch Alert: Thieves Target AC Units
Community Watch Meetings Planned
Bike Lanes Coming to Rural Orange County
Muddy Water Watch Training
Orange County's Royal Wedding
Cicadas Getting You Down?

County Budget May Mean More Taxes and Fees   

 
As budget season begins, the county is considering two sales tax increases, a new solid waste property tax fee, and a possible property tax increase to fund its 2011-2012 budget.  Important projects need funding, but some projects can wait.  Your input can help the county commissioners set priorities for the coming year.
  
The draft budget will be issued on May 17, 2011, with public hearings starting immediately afterwords.  Once it's issued, the budget will be accessible online at 
  
Two public hearings are planned, one on Thursday, May 19, at Hillsborough Commons, and the other on Tuesday, May 24, at the Southern Human Services Center.  You may also send comments directly to the commissioners at http://www.co.orange.nc.us/contact.asp.
  
We're not sure what's in the draft budget, but here's what has our attention:
  • The county plans to invest in water and sewer infrastructure in the Buckhorn Economic Development District.  The plan, which has widespread support, is expected to attract economic development and corrects water and sewer rates for the Efland community. 
  • Rural fire departments, which operate separately from the county, are seeking a property tax increase to cover essential maintenance and capital costs. 
  • School boards are looking to the county for help with gaps created by cuts in the state budget and the loss of federal stimulus dollars.  The schools have already made difficult budget cuts and are planning to draw upon reserves.  It's unclear whether a tax increase will be necessary.  For more on schools, click here.
  • The Solid Waste Department wants more money for the convenience centers, but not to restore the hours which were cut in 2009.  Among other things, a new $40 fee would fund a $3 million project to pave the centers and add compactors.  For more, click here.
  • There's discussion of a new transit tax -- a 1/2% sales tax or motor vehicle fee increase -- to fund increased bus or light rail service in the county.  Click here for more.

OCV understands the fiscal challenges facing the county and supports meaningful funding for essentials, particularly education and economic development.  We strongly support funding our rural fire departments, which are largely volunteer organizations and need equipment, training and other resources to safely and efficiently carry out their mission of protecting our homes and families.  

 
OCV
 opposes spending on non-essentials, and new fees to fund them. We believe the changes to convenience centers and transit can wait until the local economy is stronger and the benefits of such changes are made clear.  

 

OCV has already begun preparing for the May 24th hearing.  If you have comments, suggestions, or want to help, please contact any of us:  

 

      Bonnie Hauser  Email Me 

Stan Cheren  Email me 

Tish Galu  Email Me

Stephen Graf  Email Me 

Norma White  Email Me .  

 

For more on the upcoming budget hearings, click here.

The Latest on the Landfill Closing 

 

Should the county extend the life of the landfill to 2016, 2017, or 2018?

 

The county has the option of extending the life of the landfill by making the sides of the landfill steeper and the trash mound taller.  According to projections, this would allow landfill revenues to increase by $2.3 million per year.

 

The windfall for the county would come at the expense of the Rogers Road Community, which has lived with direct impacts of the landfill -- odors, vermin, and increased truck traffic -- for 40 years.  Recently, UNC's Engineers without Borders documented 42 illegal dump sites within the community.  Six dump sites are active, exacerbated by reduced hours at the nearby convenience center.

  

Reaction by the county's commissioners can be summed up by the following words: "Not so fast!".  Commissioner Foushee announced publicly that she will not discuss extending the life of the landfill without firm plans to mitigate the impact of the landfill on the Rogers Road Community.  Her fellow commissioners support her views unanimously.  For more about Foushee's act of leadership on this issue, click here

 

The historically African-American community, with roots in Orange County dating back to the 1700s, has been seeking water and sewer hookups for years.  In addition, there is a call for much-needed cleanup of illegal dump sites and greater public support for the area's community center.

  

RENA/CEER, with support from OCV and Justice United, is developing a plan of action for the Rogers Road Community, and hope that the county and the towns will fund this plan as a priority.  We will report more on this shortly. We extend a special thanks to Commissioner Foushee for leading the way in setting things right for the residents of Rogers Road.

Community Watch Alert: Thieves Target AC Units

 

The Sheriff's Department reports that air conditioning units are being stolen, mainly for the copper they contain.  Please call 911 to report any suspicious activity and keep a special lookout if a house is vacant or up for sale.  

Community Watch Meetings Planned
 
The Sheriff's Department has scheduled information sessions to help communities within Orange County build strong neighborhood watch coalitions that work effectively with local law enforcement officials. 

The first meeting of this kind was held in Schley last month.  Two additional meetings are planned:

  • Wednesday, May 18, at 7:00 PM, at Christ United Methodist Church at Southern Village
  • Monday, May 23, at 7:00 PM, at the Antioch Baptist Church in White Cross

Community Watch programs are the single most effective weapon in preventing crime within neighborhoods and communities.  Please send representatives from your neighborhood and community to one of these sessions.  Contact Butch Clark of the Orange County Sheriff's Department to learn more about Community Watch programs and these meetings. 

Bicycle Lanes Coming to Rural Orange County     

Orange County will allow the NCDOT to widen Dairyland Road, Old Greensboro Highway, and NC 57, by adding 2-foot shoulders that will help bicyclists better share these well-traveled roads with motorized vehicles.

For more, click here
Muddy Water Watch Training
  

Friends of Bolin Creek announces a Muddy Water Watch Workshop in partnership with the Haw River Assembly, on Monday, May 23rd from 7:00 - 9:00 PM. The workshop is free, but there is limited space.  Please register at this link:   http://bolincreek.org/blog.

 

As OWASA continues its work along Bolin Creek, you can help monitor impacts on the creek from the number one pollutant of NC waters -- sediment!   

Orange County's Royal Wedding

On Saturday, April 30, friends, family, and dignitaries from throughout Orange County watched as Allison Hope Nichols married Hank D. Clapper of Owego, NY.  Ms. Nichols is a descendant of some of Orange County's oldest families, among them the Snipes and Durhams of southwestern Orange County and the Nichols family of northern Orange County.

Allison is the Executive Director of the Maple View Agricultural Education Center and manager of Maple View Farm's ice cream store.   
Cicadas Getting You Down?
 
Is the constant drone of our periodic cicadas beginning to wear on your nerves?  If so, look at the bright side and consider the sustenance they bring to our woodlands and wildlife.  For more about these amazing creatures and their incredible 13-year life cycle, click here

As springtime moves towards summer, we encourage you to learn more about the proposed state and county budgets.  The county needs your input to assure that scarce funds are directed towards our most important priorities, and that new taxes and fees are added only for essential services.

 

Thank you for your support of OCV and the rural community it serves.


Sincerely,
 

Bonnie

Bonnie Hauser, President  Email Me

                                                                                               
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.  - Margaret Mead

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