Commissioners vote for against tax increase
By Dawn Burleigh
It was standing room only at the Tuesday morning Public Budget Hearing for Orange County Commissioners Court, with more standing in the hall hoping to hear the discussions.
While citizens voiced their views from the lack of transparency in the budget process, the concern Orange County Sheriff dispatchers could be facing a cut in pay, and the hardship raising taxes could be for small business owners, the court opted to not adopt the higher proposed taxes.
The tax rate will remain .544 as it has been in recent years.
Orange County Sheriff dispatchers will not face a pay cut, despite the rumors on social media.
“One of the many options we looked at would have caused a cut in pay,” Orange County Judge Stephen ‘Brint’ Carlton said. “There were many other options and since then, three more options. I don’t want to lose them [the dispatchers].”
The concern for the salaries began during discussions regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Collective Bargaining was created in 1990 and the dispatchers were added to the agreement in 1993.
“It was an illegal part of the Collective Bargaining,” Carlton said during the court session following the hearing. “For 23 years they were apart of the Collective Bargaining. This court discovered it and is taking corrective actions. We are not doing it to punish anyone, it is what the law says.”
The dispatchers will go by a Dispatchers Matrix allowing them to maintain their current salaries and move up as years of service permit.
“Leaving it as is in their own matrix is the least expensive to the County,” Carlton said.
Two dispatchers average 33,000 calls in a six-month period, according to Chief Deputy John Tarver.
“Certificate pay is important,” Tarver said. “We want them to be trained.”
The budget, based on the current tax rate did not include the additional personal in the District Clerks Office, the Tax Office or Road and Bridge Department.
Commissioner David Dubose said bickering between county employees and the court needs to stop.
“The court belongs to Orange County,” Dubose said as he referenced comments circulating on social media. “I would like to see the county heal and move forward.”
“We have to do what the numbers allow us to do,” Commissioner Barry Burton said. “I would rather vote for a deficit budget that a tax increase.”
Commissioner John Banken said it is never an easy budget process.
“People disagree, it is part of the process,” Banken said. “I think an injustice was done to the employees in this budget. People elected us to do a job, but you will not find me bashing the Judge or Commissioners on Facebook, because it is wrong.”
Banken also said he does not have a Facebook account.
Commissioner Jody Crump said, “I don’t normally vote for a deficit budget. It scares me. I am happy to vote for the .544 tax rate.”
The proposed tax rate was .6032.
How they voted:
Commissioner David Dubose – No
Commissioner Barry Burton – Yes
County Judge Stephen ‘Brint’ Carlton – Yes
Commissioner John Banken – No
Commissioner Jody Crump – Yes