Now is the time for residents of Orange County to have their say on how their tax dollars are spent.
Each May, the County Manager presents a Recommended Budget for the next fiscal year to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). The BOCC then holds multiple work sessions and public hearings while considering the budget and proposed amendments to it. The final Public Hearing on the proposed budget and amendments is scheduled for June 3. The BOCC is then expected to approve the final budget at its subsequent Business Meeting on June 15. You can read about the entire process here, as well as instructions for residents who wish to make public comments on the proposal at the June 3 hearing.
As Riley reported last month, the overall tone of the budget is more spending, borrowing, and taxing. You can read about each of the components of the budget at these links:
Annual Operating Budget
The County Manager's FY 2021-22 Recommended Operating Budget is a whopping 544 pages long! The $279.2m budget represents an aggregate 1.83% increase over last year and is comprised of:
a) a 2.1% increase in general operating expenses,
b) a 5% mandatory budget cut to most departments' non-personnel expenditures (public health and safety departments are exempted, though see note below), and
c) a 19.8% increase in debt service from last year.
Of note, the Recommended Budget increases the revenue-neutral property tax rate by three (3) cents to 81.87 cents per $100 of assessed value.
The Board of Elections' requested operating budget may be found on page 88. Their FY 2021-22 budget request is over $87k more than last year's budget, reflecting the need to conduct three elections in the next fiscal year versus only one last year. The report also includes some voter statistics that may be of interest to readers.
Capital Investment Plan
Recommended capital investments for the next fiscal year total $54.1m, which represents an increase of $20.2m over the 2020-21 fiscal year! Complete details on the CIP may be found here.
Proposed Budget Amendments
Finally, a review of the proposed Operating Budget Amendments shows that Commissioner Dorosin has proposed Amendment OP-002 requiring the Sheriff's Department to cut its operating expenditures by 5% (over $109k) for next year, despite the original exemption given to departments related to public health and safety. Is this Orange County's attempt to begin to #DefundThePolice?
As mentioned above, the final Public Hearing on the Recommended Budget is scheduled for June 3 at 7 PM. This is followed by a Budget Work Session on June 8, and a BOCC Business Meeting on June 15, where the Recommended Budget and Amendments will most likely be voted on for final approval. The agendas may be found here on the Friday prior to the meeting date, or you may go here to stream the video of the meeting live from home.
If you are concerned about fiscal issues in the county, this is your last chance to provide input before the Commissioners vote!