Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County commissioners and the Raleigh City Council on Monday approved budgets for the year that starts on July 1.
The $938.5 million budget for the county holds the line on property taxes while not giving schools as much money as requested. The city's $681.1 million budget includes a 0.91-cent increase to the tax rate to pay for transportation and affordable housing bonds approved last year.
Wake County expects to take in $22 million more in the coming year, mostly from rising property values and increasing sales tax revenue, officials said.
Of that new revenue, $5.9 million will be given to public safety, $200,000 to Wake Technical Community College, and $3.9 million to the public school system, which normally constitutes 10 percent of the county budget. The proposed budget also cuts 15 jobs and eliminates funding for several nonprofits.
School leaders had requested an $8.8 million increase over last year's budget of $314 million, but Paul Coble, chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, has said the county can't afford to make up for state cuts in school funding.
Schools Superintendent Tony Tata said that, after years of cuts and flat county funding, he was seeking extra funding to pay for new 3,500 new students, open four new schools and give a 1 percent raise to teachers and $500 bonus to other staff.
Tata has said he plans to continue to lobby the General Assembly for increased school funding as lawmakers tweak the two-year state budget. If the district cannot get the money it has requested, it has contingency plans that don't include layoffs, he said.
Statewide, North Carolina public schools will lose $258 million in federal stimulus money next year. The House budget would replace most of that funding, while the Senate's spending proposal would not.
County property taxes will be kept at 53.4 cents per $100 of valuation, while Raleigh property taxes will increase nine-tenths of a cent to 38.26 cents per $100 of valuation.
The City Council also approved a $1 increase in the monthly solid waste service fee to pay for replacing three fire engines and upgrades to various parks and fire stations.
Raleigh's budget includes 32 new positions, including 10 people to maintain greenways, seven to handle a growing number of 911 calls and five highway maintenance workers. It also includes a 2 percent merit raise for city employees.
Council members agreed to defer personal raises to $1,000 annually over five years. City Manager Russell Allen’s proposed budget had the council members receiving a $5,000 increase this year.
County workers also will get a 2 percent performance-based raise under the new county budget, which allocates $4.2 million of the new revenue for employee pay and benefits.
Commissioner Erv Portman objected to plans for a $10,000 raise for the county register of deeds until all of the constitutionally mandated positions in the country were reviewed to determine how their salaries measured up to those of their peers. His motion died, however, when no other commissioner seconded it.