Durham County manager presents budget; increases funds for public schools

Posted May 24, 2010
Updated May 25, 2010

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— Durham County Manager Michael Ruffin presented his recommended budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year Monday evening during the regular meeting of the county commissioners.

At the beginning of this year’s budget process, the county faced a $10.8 million deficit. Ruffin’s $339 million budget proposes a 6 percent increase to the property tax rate. Of the increase, 2.5 cents will cover the county’s debt. The remaining 1.79 cents will enable Durham Public Schools to save nearly half of its 237 positions considered for elimination.

Teachers, parents and students attended the commissioners’ meeting Monday to voice concerns over any cuts to education.

"Personally, as a student I think that it is ridiculous that they want to cut my education down,” Hillside High School junior Elisa Benitze said.

Ruffin said the county is doing what it can to fund education and save as many teaching positions as feasible. Durham public schools faced a $13 million loss in teacher jobs.

"We can not take the state's place and fund an increase of this magnitude,” Ruffin explained.

But Ruffin's budget proposal does provide a funding increase of 3.16 percent for schools, saving 111 teacher jobs.

"That is certainly a good point from which we can now work,” board member Heidi Carter said.

To save the rest of the jobs, Commissioner Becky Heron said teachers, parents and students should take their fight to state legislators.

"You (legislators) created the shortfall. You have ways to raise money. We don't except through the property tax,” Heron said.

The county manager's proposed budget would also lay off 15 workers and eliminate 46 vacant positions, suspend merit raises for the year and increase fees for the sheriff’s office, the fire marshal, erosion control, public health, the Triangle wastewater treatment plant and solid waste management.

County libraries will also close from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays to reduce costs. The Museum of Life and Science will receive a 3 percent reduction in funding while non-profit agencies will receive an overall 4.07 percent cut. Durham Technical Community College will also receive a 3 percent funding reduction.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for June 14. County commissioners have until June 28 to approve the budget.


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  • Boogalooboy May 25, 2010

    Keep your eyes wide open folks of Durham County. Durham Schools paid for a research project to identify where it needed schools. Well guess what, the project points for possible schools to the south and they are trying to build to the north as hard as they can.
    Pay close attention next election, the school board and the county commissioners are not hitting on all cylinders. The county comm. approved development closer to the existing cess pool called Jordan Lake. They are not listening..
    You have to take back your county/city. Their answer is always put it on the taxpayers back... Please take time to see what your govt is not doing for you... if not...don't say I didn't tell u so..
    don't think we will fall for the old taxation of poker machines, since they did us on the lottery by not adding the funds but replacing them. Leaving us no better off than in the beginning.

  • promethianfire May 25, 2010

    The Durham county tax increase will be wasted and miss spent so any increase is good money after bad. Durham Government's record speaks for itself; failing schools, repeated missing cash and drugs from the evidence lock-up, high crime, run away spending. They Fail! More local taxes are not the answer, better local government is the answer.

  • promethianfire May 25, 2010

    Durham should try to pay its debts, and not waste tax $'s instead of raising taxes. The extra 6% they raise will be spent on a sherrif's department that keeps losing cash and drugs from the evidence room, paying for liabilities created by an abusive former District Atty, $60k in overtime fopr a single police officer, failing schools, a new 70 million $ crime building, so on, so on. All these failures financed on the tax payer's back, but with increasing salaries for gov. officials. Don't expect help from the State or Durham's run-away government they are in it for themselves.

  • ynot10 May 25, 2010

    Nothing will ever be good enough for anybody. It's sad that people don't come together for things like education. The whole thought that people with kids should be taxed more is crazy. I don't use the interstates and highways, I think everyone that uses public roads should be taxed extra, i should not have to pay for something I don't use. I don't actually believe that. Just saying you can make an argument on any system that is taxed. It's not about what you use or don't use, it's about building a better community. But since the people in this are have no sense of community, I don't expect anything to get any better. I do agree with thewayitis. The school issues are directly related to the lack of parenting. But increasing class sizes will only make it worse. The only bit of positive reinforcement some of these kids get is during school. I know, I know, you don't care.

  • CalvinCat May 25, 2010

    ynot10, thanks for the clarification. The article was not clear, they usually give an example. Still, they've got to stop taking more and more of our $, times are tough.

  • ynot10 May 25, 2010

    It's not a 6% increase on the property value, it's an increase on the current tax rate.

  • CalvinCat May 25, 2010

    A 6.1% increase for a house valued at $175,000 is over $10,000 a year!!! How can anyone afford this? And this is on top of the confiscatory taxes already in place! More foreclosures on the way...

  • rlwieland May 25, 2010

    You can not just keep raising property taxes. How about put a new tax in place. Tax each family more for the amount of children they have instead of all of us having to pay. Tax each child. You had'em.

  • thewayitis May 25, 2010

    Glad I'm moving out of Durham... Tax and spend, tax and spend. How about cutting programs that we can no longer afford, just like most households have had to do?

    And the schools in Durham will never improve until parents take responsibility for the children's behavior. You can throw all the money you want at the school system, but with absentee parents, it is like throwing money down the drain.

  • ptfmom May 25, 2010

    6% increase! At a time where people are not receiving pay increases and getting laid off? I think we just need to better use the money we have. Have always wondered why we spend so much on prison and not that much on school. Surely they know that prisoners don't need 3 HOT meals a day - I know plenty of people eating cold cut and PB&J sandwiches. They could save money right there.