Board to Hear from Public June 14 on Draft Budget
The Hillsborough Board of Commissioners will receive input on the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022 during a virtual public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, June 14.
The public hearing and a second budget work session are part of the board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting. The board also met this past Monday, June 7, for a work session on the budget. The draft proposed by the town manager reduces the property tax rate to a revenue neutral rate, makes no change to the stormwater fee, and increases water and sewer rates to address infrastructure needs and meet bond obligations.
The budget materials are available below and on the town’s Budget webpage. The board is expected to vote on the budget at its June 28 meeting.
Community members are invited to ask questions and share their thoughts on the proposed budget. Attend the virtual public hearing on June 14, or contact Hillsborough Budget Director Emily Bradford by email or by phone at 919-296-9427. If attending the meeting, see the agenda face sheet for instructions on providing comment.
Proposed FY22 budget
Under the draft plan for Fiscal Year 2021-22 — which starts July 1 and runs through June 30, 2022 — the town’s operating expenses would total about $25.6 million, with:
- $12.8 million in expenses in the General Fund.
- $12.2 million in expenses in the Water and Sewer Fund.
- $655,722 in expenses in the Stormwater Fund.
Rates and fees
- A decrease in the property tax rate, dropping the 62 cents per $100 of assessed value to a revenue‐neutral 56.7 cents. Because property values have increased in Orange County’s revaluation, the decreased rate would generate about the same revenue currently. This would be the ninth consecutive year without a rate increase.
- A 4.5% increase in water rates to help pay for debt service on the reservoir expansion, upcoming capital projects, and other system needs; to comply with covenants for revenue bonds sold to pay for the reservoir expansion; and to keep the water fund in a fiscally sound position.
- A 2% increase in sewer rates to help pay for the upcoming replacement of the Eno River Pump Station and wastewater collection system maintenance and projects.
See the news release Board Receives Draft Budget, to Hear from Public June 14 for additional details on General Fund and Water and Sewer Fund projects and initiatives proposed for funding in Fiscal Year 2022. Information on Hillsborough’s multi-year budget format and the two types of funds it uses ― general and enterprise funds ― also is available in the news release.
Budget work session
During Monday’s work session, the board asked for:
- A revised funding allocation for a downtown parking study, with the town paying a greater share than currently allocated and with the Hillsborough Tourism Board and Hillsborough Tourism Development Authority paying smaller shares. The last parking study was conducted prior to completion of the Orange County Justice Facility on Margaret Lane.
- Increased cleaning of park restrooms. Recreation facilities will return to pre-pandemic cleaning schedules. Hillsborough’s park restrooms were cleaned twice a week prior to the pandemic.
- Additional information on cost of Office 365 licenses for employees.
- Funding a proportional share of a veterans memorial in Orange County. All other jurisdictions in the county are providing funding. It was noted that Hillsborough Commissioner Mark Bell is the only current elected official in the county to have served in the military.
- Options for restoring raises for employees and recognizing work during the pandemic. No raises were given this fiscal year due to the pandemic. The manager initially proposed a 3.25% merit raise in Fiscal Year 2022. He suggested increasing that up to 4.25% following a review of what other jurisdictions are proposing. Discussed were a flat raise not tied to merit, a combination of a flat raise and merit raise, and a combination of a flat dollar amount and merit raise.
They also discussed:
- Future-year proposals for increasing the number of police officers to handle an expected increase in service needs due to the Collins Ridge development. The police chief said the department currently is staffed at a level that allows officers to have discretionary time to problem-solve issues or engage with the community. It is not making choices of what calls to respond to like other communities faced with police staffing shortages.
- Replacement of a deteriorating privacy fence at the Town Cemetery. The public space manager said landscaping as a barrier is not an option because of the amount of the invasive plant kudzu that is on neighboring property not owned by the town.
- Finding a suitable place for a bench on Nash Street, which was discussed when constructing sidewalk along the street.
- A proposal to restore use of inmates for water and sewer work and the payment for that work. It was noted that the program the town used had limits on the type of work inmates could do, provided inmates with a low skill set, and required town employees to provide constant supervision. It was suggested that a presentation be provided to the board on the differences in the various inmate work programs.
The board planned to discuss the property tax rate and water and sewer rates at the June 14 budget work session.
In other business Monday, the board clarified the schedule for flag placement in June. This is the first year the town has displayed flags for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning Pride Month, which is celebrated nationally each year in June.
The Pride flags were installed the morning of June 1, when the United States and North Carolina flags were removed following display over Memorial Day weekend. The Pride flags will be displayed throughout June, with flags on Churton Street replaced briefly with American and state flags to observe Flag Day and Juneteenth, June 14 and 19. The American and state flags will be displayed June 11-21 on Churton Street.
The town typically installs flags the Friday before a holiday weekend and removes them following the holiday. Juneteenth, which celebrates the emancipation of those enslaved in the United States, will be observed Friday, June 18 by the town. This will be the first year the town has observed Juneteenth with a paid holiday for employees.
Pride flags will be reinstalled on Churton Street on June 21 following the holiday weekend and will remain on display for the remainder of the month.