Tax proposals: Hillsborough up 8%, Carrboro up 4.9%

Hillsborough budget proposal calls for tax rate increase of nearly 8%

http://www.newsobserver.com/politics/story/1073114.html

Proposed $18.5 million budget would raise Carrboro tax rate 4.9%

http://www.newsobserver.com/politics/story/1073116.html

notable quotes:

"The economy has really made it difficult," said Peterson, who noted that Chapel Hill and Carrboro also are facing local property tax-rate increases.

 -- Hillsborough Town Manager Eric Peterson

"I don't recall, at least in recent history, a more dim outlook in terms of revenue projections," -- Carrboro Town Manager Steve Stewart.

Issues: 

Total votes: 140

Comments

Those increases for Carrboro and Hillsborough seem quite modest. That is they seem quite reasonable until one compares them to what neighboring towns are able to do. Despite slowing revenue growth in Graham, and despite increased expenditures in both Graham and Mebane, both towns have been able to stay with current tax rates for the next budget cycle. And, Graham is doing this while increasing employee pay. Maybe there's a lesson in line by line budget trimming and fiscal responsibility for various Orange gov't in there somewhere.

http://tinyurl.com/5t7pzk 

Do you have specific cuts in mind for either of these localities?

I'm not a resident of either Carrboro or Hillsborough, (or CH, either for that matter). As a mere county resident, my interest in how the various municipalities conduct their budgets is more academic than insightful. Though I am extremely concerned that true financial sustainability be embraced by all because the alternative is incremental systemic collapse.
Fair enough. You seem, however, to believe that certain municipalities are fiscally irresponsible and their budgets unsustainable, yes? Surely those opinions are supported by specific expenditures that you feel should be removed from the budgets of those municipalities? Or is the previous statement simply conjecture regarding the budgets of Carrboro and Hillsborough?

There are so many variables that there could scarcely be any meaningful comparison between Graham and Carrboro.  But, as one example, we are building a new fire station and hiring additional firefighters to staff the new station - an essential service by anyone's standards;  I don't know whether Graham is doing anything similar.  Carrboro's only other new spending initiatives are 1) hiring two new cops and 2) putting in cost-saving flushless urinals in the Century Center (cost=$4,000 total with a quick payback in reduced water consumption).

Also, our budgetting process begins by looking at all of the town's functions and assesses opportunities to cut or to economize by consolidating services (eg we are reducing our xeroxing costs this coming year by consolidating various copiers onto one service contract).  Each department's budget is stripped back of any special project money they had for any previous year, so that no one can try incerementally increase their budget that way.

No doubt some folks like to believe that those libruls in Carrboro are profligate, but the facts are entirely the opposite.  I'd be glad to discuss the budget process with you in more detail if you are interested.  My cell phone number is 919-636-0371.

Carrboro could make a pretty penny collecting fines for basic traffic violations.  I took my radar gun to the stretch of Smith Level Road near Carrboro High, and in the space of just 20 minutes, found 21 vehicles travelling at speeds 12 MPH or more over the limit.  That's during a period when the limit is 35 MPH.

When the limit is 25 MPH, in the school zone, essentially 100% of vehicles are traveling over the limit, and many (more than 20%) at TWICE the limit.  This is the equivalent of driving 130 MPH on I-40.  Caught speeding were several vehicles owned by Chapel Hill and the State, and also more than one Chapel Hill Transit bus, plus numerous commercial vehicles, most notably many fully-loaded dump trucks.

Yet, I have **never** seen the Carrboro PD enforce the speed limit in this area, and further, when I asked (in person) for this to be looked at, I was told by the uniformed officer that "it's not a priority" to do so. (Don'tfeel too badly, I got the same brush-off from the County when I asked them as well.)

It's really a shame that a private citizen has to go to eBay and buy a radar gun to find out how flagrantly the traffic laws are being broken.  And it's sad that local government abdicates its responsibility towards basic public safety so easily.

Even if ticket revenue isn't the goal, slowing people down will help diminish our insane and reckless dependence on foreign oil.  Every drop counts.  Surely, that idea alone should motivate someone in authority to re-prioritize traffic law enforcement?

You have a radar gun?
I will ask the PD to look at this situation.  Thanks for bringing it to my attention.  Just so that you know, the Twon does not get to keep (or ever even touch) the fines for traffic violations.  By state law the moeny goes to the school system.

... while it wasn't in the right place or set up at the ideal time, I give kudos to Carrboro PD leadership for them putting a speed trap out on Smith Level Road today (5/21/08).

Now, to move it south about a half mile, and earlier by an hour or so, then you'd be making a real difference! 

I saw you and your son standing out with the radar gun on Smith Level and almost stopped to come back and talk to you. The Carrboro-sponsored Smith Level Road task force has requested additional speed monitoring on Smith Level Road, but from where you were south, that responsibility falls to the sheriff's department rather than Carrboro. South of Ray Road is all extra-jurisdictional territory.

The sheriff's department has two patrol cars covering southern Orange County so using one to set up speed traps would take away significantly from other services those officers provide. It's really a catch 22. If we want more enforcement, we need more officers. Under current conditions, if we want more officers, we need to either request the BOCC reallocate funds away from the schools or we need to willingly pay higher property taxes. I'd prefer to look for long-term solutions and deal with what we have today.

What about the portable radar/speed indicator signs that are sometimes used at various locations?  I know that when I'm coming up to the one out at the airport or the one that is usually located on University Road by Chapel Drive in Durham I usually find myself checking my speed to try to make sure I'm at or under the limit. I do that not because I'm afraid of getting ticketed but simply because these devices serve as a very visible, hard-to-miss reminder. It wouldn't deter or slow down a number of folks but I'm sure it would have an effect on some and that would be a start. In addition, it could be moved to other locations when necessary. I don't know if the sheriff's department has such a device or whether they could afford one but it might be worth a mention.

Terri

It was my 2 kids that motivated me.

THEY were the ones to complain about the terrifying experiences they have walking to school or even just waiting for the bus. So I went out to see what was up, and **I** (who grew up in New York City) was terrified! Then I decided I'd need to really see, not just guess, how fast these trucks and such were going. So, I bought the radar gun on eBay and tested it to see if it was accurate (it is spot-on, when used correctly).

My teen daughter says it's hard for her not to be cynical about adults when they say one thing (speed limit signs, driving safety classes) and do another (speed like there's no consequences). She is right. She asked me to see what I could do about getting something done, and so far all I have hit is a bureaucratic brick wall. I am embarassed to tell her what I have encountered. On the other hand, this is a good age for her to learn the realities of the demonstrable failure of government to provide for the citizenry.

Some mornings, when I have a bit of time, I actually go out and drive the speed limit, up and down in the neighborhood. Sort of my own version of civil protest, I guess. I get honked at, tailgated, and get to see all sorts of colorful hand gestures. Many of these 'special effects' come from cars sporting a youngster being transported to FPG or Culbreth shools, and a lot of the cars have bumper stickers of the sort you find a lot of in this area.

These are just candid observations, which reinforce many of the beliefs I have about people ... I wish they weren't true.

The sheriff's office does have a portable speed indicator sign. We had one set up in our neighborhood for a while and people would slow down when they saw it and then speed back up after they drove past it. Seems to work that same way over on Hillsborough Street in Chapel Hill where the indicator is fixed in place. <sigh>

Terri,

I agree that many people speed up after they've slowed down for one of these speed indicators. But those are the people who are willing to speed and you're never going to have much effect on them other than ticket writing. But I think you can have an effect on the people who are unknowingly speeding. I just don't know whether that percentage is high enough to justify one of these passive devices.

It's kind of interesting to note that Raleigh may be the first area municipality to specifically cite rising fuel costs in it's budget proposal. They're citing a 44% increase in fuel costs. Don't know where they got that particular figure, but overall fuel costs have been rising about 20% per year for the past five years, and there's no indication of that trend ever slowing down in this post peak world.  I'm predicting that this is going to be a recurring theme for the foreseeable future with fuel costs playing a larger and larger role in all aspects of local, state and national governance. It's also noteworthy what a huge role debt service plays.

http://tinyurl.com/4z4k73 

 

Gas prices go up it must be Bush's fault. So we have to increase taxes. What are these folks going to do when he is gone?

You conserve water we raise the rates because you are not buying enough water to support our budget.

 

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