Local Politics

Durham seeks tax increase for affordable housing

Posted May 16

— City Manager Tom Bonfield on Monday proposed a $429.4 million budget for Durham for the fiscal year that starts in July, including a tax increase to pay for more affordable housing and other needs in the city.

The proposed 1.79-cent increase to Durham's tax rate would add $35.80 to the annual tax bill for the owner of a $200,000 house.

"We’ve heard very clearly from residents and the City Council that we need to be doing more to provide affordable housing in our community," Bonfield said in a statement. "The bulk of this tax rate increase is to address affordable housing, which was stressed as an urgent need from Durham residents at public meetings."

The proposed budget would double the amount of tax revenue Durham spends on affordable housing, and Bonfield asked the City Council to set guidelines for projects so city staff could work with nonprofits and developers to get the housing built.

The budget also includes money to hire 53 public safety workers, including 300 firefighters to staff a new station in southeast Durham, to boost recruitment and retention of police officers, firefighters and paramedics, to purchase police body cameras and to encourage police officers to take their patrol cars home at night to promote community policing in local neighborhoods.

The street resurfacing fund is recommended to receive a $2.6 million boost, which more than doubles the funding for paving and street maintenance.

The City Council is expected to discuss increases to local water and sewer rates, but Bonfield's budget would eliminate daily fees for youths under 18 to use Durham's public swimming pools and recreation centers. The city also plans to launch after-school drop-in programs for teens at four recreation centers.

A public hearing is scheduled on June 5 for the proposed budget, with a City Council vote set for 7 p.m. June 19.

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