Seriously Creative Thinking for County Fund-raising Needed

After last night's defeat of the 1/4 cent sales tax we're really under the gun. A number of important community services could be cut. We could witness the closing of libraries, crippled EMS, county employee layoffs, cuts to school budgets, and more. So what are the Commissioners going to do to fill the budget gaps and invest in the future?

Now is the time for some seriously creative thinking. I know the County Manager, Staff, and Commissioners have been thinking about this hard. But what would you do? How would you raise one time or recurring funds to keep the lights on?

To me it isn't about eliminating the service you dislike most. There are just too many reasons to keep them all. So many of them we have come to depend on. I dismiss the conservative political frame of "tightening the belt". So often that frame is used to serve agendas. I'm asking for NEW ideas to generate new income. Not cut existing expenses.

As a entrepreneur I have a bunch of ideas. But I wonder how many of them are doable by a local government? How many of them are politically possible? Off the top of my head are there any public services that could be done by private companies in exchange for a cash payment and ongoing cut of profits?

Recently the State eliminated many mental health services. When I heard about this I was appalled. But recently a entrepreneur friend started a private mental health care company to fill the gaps. He's a talented therapist and a gifted business person. Turns out he's serving more people better than government did. So much so his competition is crazy jealous and he's doing very well.

What services could be done by a business better than Orange County government?



Ruby has a interesting poll over here. Take it.

Perhaps I'm missing the point of this question, but how about charging people for services rendered, where possible? For instance, why can I take my trash to the transfer station without someone charging me for the costs associated with my garbage?Every time a tax fails to pass, we seem to ask ourselves a very stupid question: "how can I continue to give away services that have costs?" The answer is you can't. So, either end the service or start charging for it. And if you start charging for it an no one wants to pay, perhaps the value of your service isn't what you thought it was.

Conversely I don't use the Chapel Hill library but I get charged for it, I don't
use the senior center on Homestead yet I get charged for it, I don't use
the schools yet I get charged for it, the list goes on and on. And the amount I pay seems to be rising exponentially. I would love to have a pay as you go system but probably will never happen. I think a balanced array of taxes (sales, real estate transfer, impact fees, income, property) would be the way to go and help reduce the huge property tax increases we see every revaluation  on top of the regular annual increases. I think this would give the county a much fairer way to spread the tax burden out.

I would add that this array of taxes should be presented to the voters in one package with an effective educatiuon to convince property owners that there property taxes will not continue to sky rocket and should go down (both curretn and future growth) with adequate property tax relief. Offering any of these options one at a time (other than property tax relief) I believe will not be sucessful as we have seen with transfer and sales. Voters are not in the mood for more taxes yet more taxes in an array and significant lower taxes on property tax might be a winner the voters would buy into.

I recall that Mark Zimmerman (Durham resident, owns a Re/Max franchise in Durham with satellite in Chapel Hill) lobbied very effectively on behalf of the NC Board of Realtors to prevent an Orange County transfer tax.  The county cannot outspend lobbying groups, is what we have learned.

I'd have to write a book to detail the positive alternatives to how we handle building inspections.

Don't know if the county has the authority to do this or not, but I like the idea of taxing plastic/paper bags at a penny a pop. Hopefully it would reduce use. The tax would not be oppressive. People could always bring their own bags/baskets/backpacks to avoid paying the tax.  

It is esential for the future of NC that municipalities across the state join together and work to rid the legislature of control over the laws they pass.

This year, Carrboro at our legislative breakfast shared with our
legislative representatives, amongst other things, wanting home rule for our
town.  This serious request was brushed off with
laughter.  Now, after the mid-terms, it may be even harder?   ... or
not!?  Either way, definately, does require some coordinated organizing effort by the municipalities, perhaps as an agenda item for the Leauge of Municipalities. 


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