Last week Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs proposed a $20 million budget increase for children’s programs, and one week later, newly-appointed Orange County District 2 Commissioner Rod Love had a targeted approach to where that additional funding should go.

In a letter sent to Jacobs and the Orange County Board of Commissioners on Monday, Love writes:

Orange County Commissioner Rod Love

“This is a great opportunity to engage in productive deliberations regarding the proposed new $20 million for children’s services. The leadership of Mayor Jacobs in taking this issue head on must be commended as the entire body of the Board will be challenged to ensure that we execute our duties of ensuring we make the best decision for children. Thus, we should seek to advance an innovative approach to address this important county-wide issue. This approach should be consistent with past business logic of the Board in expending tax-payer dollars for specific purposes with defined and measurable outcomes. 

We must challenge ourselves to explore a transformative undertaking specific to being purposeful in addressing one of the primary root causes of what ails impoverished communities, particularly where the lives and future of children are concerned. One of the major root causes being, the lack of economic opportunity. 

The timing could not be better for the establishment of a critical services funding formula based on community needs. This formula should be inclusive of the proposed $20 million in new funding for children services and the existing $67 million currently allocated for children services, for a total of approximately $90 million. After the establishment of the funding formula, critical need services should be targeted in geographical areas with documented need based on empirical data. For example, 18 zips codes comprised almost one half (42.3%) of all delinquency referrals in Orange County during fiscal year 2017 according to the Department of Juvenile data. It should also be noted that historically there tends to be a geographical correlation between delinquency, child welfare, low performing schools and other related disparities. Several of the identified geographical areas would be designated as Community Empowerment Zones (CEZ) with the specific intent to concentrate children and family services through economic invest in under-served communities. The primary focus areas are identified below. 

1. Head Start 

2. Child Welfare 

3. Juvenile Delinquency 

4. Healthcare Disparities 

5. Mental / Behavioral Health 

Furthermore, we must solidify as a Board the commitment to this initiative by codifying it into policy as a mandate to ensure funding appropriations are based on empirical data listed above and specific outcome objectives. To this end, the level funding level for CEZs should be commensurate with and proportionate to the level of need as indicated by empirical data in the previously identified areas. CEZ services and funding shall be restricted to: 

1. Addressing the needs of children and family services in communities where they live; 

2. Delivered by local providers and/or organizations (stakeholders, i.e., faith & community-based organizations) with a physical location and established-presence within the CEZ; and, 

3. Providers and organizations not meeting the criteria above may partner with local providers within the CEZ. Such a partnership must detail the partnership agreement and clearly delineate the role and responsibility of each partner. Provider partnerships and CEZ eligibility will be assessed in a manner like Orange County’s existing exemplary M/WBE process. 

The leadership of the Orange County Board of County Commissioners has proven to be visionary through several well accomplished, celebrated and successful partnership initiatives that have yielded positive results. These initiatives have benefited the citizens of Orange County and continue to fuel the local tourism- and hospitality industries, which are the engines of our local economy. The common denominators have been that of clear purpose, vested partnerships, and a solid economic foundation to launch from. 

There is an urgency for us to move forward; however, we must do so in a cautious, but thoughtful manner. This approach must not be singularly in focus, but rather a holistic children, family and community-centered strategy to ensure successful outcomes. It is more difficult to have successful outcomes with children without successful outcomes with families and communities. 

This is an opportunity to create a new paradigm of social responsibility and accountability through the creation of CEZs that incentivize local community stakeholders to invest directly or indirectly in the creation of human service jobs. The jobs will benefit disadvantaged youth, families, and communities while positively impacting the local economy, and CEZ in particular. In addition, this places true community responsibility on contractual outcomes that directly improves quality of life issues in communities decimated by poverty and other related issues. This initiative would also strengthen and develop direct community-based leadership and accountability in the delivery of services to children and families. 

We all have a vested interest in moving the needle towards a more effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars while avoiding or contributing to a bureaucratic process, having experienced challenges myself as a child growing up in a community with similar characteristics as some of the CEZs and other disadvantaged communities throughout Orange County.”

Jacobs’ proposal and Love’s letter will likely be discussed by the county commission on July 17th, which is the second of two days of hearings on the county budget.

5 COMMENTS

  1. They must be planning on jacking up our tax values, as Rick Singh’s employees came around to our yard and were going door to door all along our street, and they were walking up to our doorway, when my husband talked to them, and they asked did we still have 3 bedrooms, tile floors, and no fireplace…uh yeah. They thanked him and left. I assume they are up to no good as far as taxes. Anyway, what difference does it make if we have tile floors, and no fireplace?

    • It matters because our taxes are ad valorem, thus anything showing value needs to be clear. This is somethng that needs to be done on a regular basis to keep the roll clean. This would not be personal to any piece of real estate. The Tax Collector nor the Property Appraiser (f/k/a Tax Assessor) does not set the millage rate. Look at your online record and you will see who each taxing authority is for yours and everyone else’s is. This is a simple Civics 101 matter. I hope this lesdon helps you and others reading it.

      • Sharon, Sharon, Sharon…..I didn’t write that the property appraiser sets the millage rate…where did you see that, where I wrote that?…… You didn’t see it, in my posting, because I didn’t write that. You say it matters because our taxes are ad valorem, well we also have non-ad valorem taxes added too. When the property values go up, we pay more in property taxes. Honestly, I don’t know why the property appraiser’s employees come around, door to door, because they have ways of seeing all around each property parcel 360 degrees all the way around anyway….drones, I suppose. In the past, I also saw a property appraiser’s car going up and down the neighborhood streets with some kind of a satellite (or at least that was what it looked like) on top of their car, or maybe a camera, not sure. Don’t be surprised if the Orange County property values go up, even if the millage rate stays the same, which will translate into a property tax increase. There might be an additional savings on certain priced homes, if voter approved, but not on the lower valued homes, which are the people who need the savings the most. If you are selling and moving, the increased property values would be wonderful for you, you could probably sell your home for a higher price, but if you plan on staying here in this county for the long haul, then you will just pay more in property taxes long term…..end of story.

  2. Our children are our future…therefore…We must do our best to move the needle forward. Thanks to Commissioner Love and Mayor Jacobs for advocating for the most “vulnerable”.

  3. Rod, are you havin’ fun, as an Orange County Commissioner, spreading the “love”? Greeting to you too, Greg. Hope you two, and your families, have a Happy 4th of July! Take care…..

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