Summary for Wednesday’s Council Meeting (6/12/19)
The Chapel Hill Town Council met at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., to consider an agenda that includes the following highlights. The full agenda and video access is available at http://bit.ly/2MDJsPR.
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Adoption of 2019-20 Budget
The Council adopted a $116 million budget for fiscal year 2019-20, representing no changes in core services, which are highly valued in the Chapel Hill community.
“This budget continues to support the delivery of high-quality core services to our residents, businesses and visitors,” said Town Manager Maurice Jones. “The budget also provides key investments in strategic goal areas identified as priorities by the Council, from affordable housing to climate action. Overall, it reflects a commitment to implementing the policy decisions of the Council and upholding the values of the community.”
The new tax rate is 54.4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. If you own a home in Orange County within the Chapel Hill town limits that is valued at $400,000, your Town property taxes under the adopted budget will be $2,176, representing a $64 increase.
Of the 1.6 cent tax increase, 1 cent is dedicated to funding the $10 million Affordable Housing Bonds approved by 72 percent of the voters in November 2018. The additional 0.6 cent increase will assist in paying the debt service on other bonded projects like the future Municipal Services Center, Wallace Deck renovations and Elliott Road Extension. The debt service fund is the Town’s primary source of repayment for capital borrowing.
The adopted budget reflects Council and community priorities including environmental sustainability, which is supported by allocations of $315,000 for coal ash remediation, $50,000 for a Climate Action Plan, and $100,000 for urban design services.
The personnel costs for the Town’s programs and services represent 74 percent of Town expenditures. The adopted budget includes a 3 percent of market rate of pay adjustment for all classified employees. Market rate is defined as the midpoint of each pay grade. The budget also includes $200,000 to recruit and retain sworn police officers and $100,000 for a classification and compensation study.
The total amount Chapel Hill residents pay in property taxes also depends on the actions of the Board of Orange County Commissioners, which set the county tax rate, and the special schools tax for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. The property tax bill that Chapel Hill residents pay is divided among Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (12 percent), the Town of Chapel Hill (34 percent), and Orange County (54 percent). Residents who live in the Durham County portion of Chapel Hill see slightly different tax bills due to the actions of the Durham County Commissioners.
Development of the budget requires considerable public input over many months, beginning at the Council retreat in January 2019. On May 1, 2019, Town Manager Jones presented a recommended budget. The Council conducted a public hearing on May 8, and held budget work sessions on May 15 and June 5. More information is available at www.townofchapelhill.org/budget
Coal Ash Clean-Up Update at Police Station
The Council provided input on recommendations to address coal combustion products (CCPs) that were placed at the Police Station property before the Town acquired it the early 1980s. These measures are designed to significantly reduce the risk profile for the site for a three to five year period until final remedial options can be designed and a final remedy selected. More permanent measures can be implemented once the police department is relocated to a different property and a future use of the site is identified. The revised budget for this work is $246,000, which is lower than the original recommended budget of $315,000.
Glen Lennox Performance Incentive
The Council authorized an economic incentive to Grubb Properties for $2.2 million. Grubb Properties would like to move forward with an office development and is projecting 488,000 square feet of office space. The grant period would run from 2021-2026, presuming it starts the first office in 2019, completes it in 2020 and begins paying taxes in the 2021 fiscal year. The agreement would require an annual report by Grubb Properties to the Town Council on the status of their work.
Stormwater Projects Update
The Council received an update on Chapel Hill Stormwater Management detailing completed projects and plans for the future, including the Elliott Road Flood Storage Facility. For more information on Chapel Hill Stormwater, visit www.townofchapelhill.org/stormwater. View the video update at https://youtu.be/GzzhnP6DdLY
Municipal Serves Center Project Update
The Council received updates on the new Municipal Services Center. Locations under consideration include University Place, Estes Drive, Millhouse Road, the existing police station, Vilcom, and the American Legion property.
Renamed Portion of 15-501 to “South Columbia Street”
The Council renamed the portion of U.S. Highway 15-501 South between Fordham Boulevard (NC 54) and Dogwood Acres Drive to “South Columbia Street.”