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Raleigh, Durham eye tax increases

Posted May 20, 2008

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— Raleigh and Durham officials have proposed raising taxes in the coming year to fund a variety of programs.

Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen proposed a $642.8 million budget to the City Council Tuesday afternoon, calling for a 5-cent increase to the tax rate. Meanwhile, Durham City Manager Patrick Baker on Monday night presented his $356 million budget proposal that included a 6-cent increase in the tax rate.

Allen's budget would set Raleigh's tax rate at 38.17 cents per $100 assessed value. Last year's tax rate was 43.5 cents, but city officials rolled it back to 33.17 cents to keep bills even after Wake County's property revaluation.

The 5-cent increase would add $75 to the annual tax bill of a $150,000 house.

Allen said half of the tax increase is earmarked for paying down debt on bonds approved for city parks and for capital projects like widening streets and building a new law enforcement center downtown.

The city also needs more money to pay for services because of the slowing economy and rising costs, he said, noting city revenues are about $5 million below projections.

"We are seeing the impacts of a slowing economy, just as is affecting the nation (and) affecting the state," he said. "We do have in this budget, unlike in any other, we do have some major capital projects that need to be addressed."

About $3.2 million in new spending would be dedicated to public safety, including higher salaries for police officers and firefighters, 12 new police officers and the construction of a new fire station.

The proposed budget also includes 35 new employees at the downtown convention center, scheduled to open this fall, and 24 more employees for the municipal water and sewer system. Allen also called for a 15 percent increase in water and sewer fees paid by local customers.

Wake County Manager David Cooke on Monday proposed a budget that includes a 2.5-cent increase in the county's tax rate.

Raleigh City Councilman Philip Isley said the economic slowdown makes it a bad time to raise taxes.

"We're really going to be hitting folks in the pocket very hard," Isley said. "My hope is that we could lessen some of these increases, but that's going to be difficult to do, more than likely."

In Durham, Baker's proposed budget is $17.9 million more than the current budget and would set the tax rate at 56 cents per $100 assessed value. Last year's tax rate was 61.8 cents, but the city ro9lled that back to 50 cents after a property revaluation raised values across the city by an average of 24 percent.

The 6-cent increase in the tax rate would add $90 to the annual tax bill for the owner of a $150,000 house.

“As always, we’re listening to our citizens by continuing our focus on basic services,” Baker said in a statement. “We’ve also heard them say that a comprehensive yard-waste program is important and that they want us to focus on improving inner city neighborhoods."

The proposed budget would provide funding for a weekly yard-waste pickup at the same time trash is collected, including two leaf vacuum trucks. It also would provide money to revitalize distressed neighborhoods and for infrastructure and streetscape improvements in commercial areas and would allow the city to hire an extra inspector to enforce the housing code.

The budget also would increase public safety funding, staffing a new fire station in north Durham and allowing the Durham Police Department to hire up to 20 new officers.

Paying off bonds for repaving local streets and to improve parks and other infrastructure around the city necessitated part of the tax increase, Baker said.

A public hearing will be held on Durham's budget proposal at 7 p.m. June 2 at Durham City Hall. Raleigh will hold its public hearing at 7 p.m. June 3 at Raleigh City Hall.


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  • legal_immigrant May 21, 2008

    Good! Now, less people will be buying new homes, and the price of existing homes will go up

  • jsanders May 21, 2008

    Here is how Triangle communities compare in local government tax burdens: http://www.johnlocke.org/press_releases/display_story.html?id=337

  • BIGCHEESECAMATO May 21, 2008

    The Govt is always eyeing tax increases... funny how people are getting this tax relief check and rushing down to Best Buy to purchase a big plasma tv and then these are the people that are complaining about tolls on 540 and 40........Rather than the democrats waste all that money on campains why not just give it to the food banks to help the poor... sure would by alot of Winn Dixie Trifty Made Beans

  • Raydianse May 21, 2008

    isn't raising all the fees for builders and developers supposed to make it so the taxpayer doesn't have to pay for the roads and schools. oh wait thats right all this money is also for the new civic center that was way over budget, new employees to hire for that, new parks, new new new new - what about keep status quo lower my taxes - i used less water now you didn't meet what you needed to, to break even just like Siler City well stop adding it to my bill I was doing what Easly said is my "patriotic" duty.
    No more parks.
    No more greater city of Raleigh offices to help promote venues in Cary etc.
    No more public concerts.
    Use my money for what is really for to serve and protect not to provide me with entertainment.

  • murph May 21, 2008

    No more Taxes! We already pay TOO much in taxes. Cut out some of the useless programs that we waste money on, cut out the mismanagement, corruption and waste, and we would have enough for all of the things that we need with money left over.

    These politicians are elected by us but NEVER represent us. They represent big business and lobbyists. We are back to the begining...TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.

  • Dolphan May 21, 2008

    And they wonder why consumers aren't spending

  • methinkthis May 21, 2008

    Arrogance beyond measure to add to the burden of citizens who already face high transportation costs and high food costs. While the taxpayer tightens his belt and reduces expenses the local governments demonstrate gluttony, 'let them eat cake'. I am particularly amused by the exorbitant increase in the employees for the water system that is showing decreased usage. This on top of telling us we have to pay more for water if we use less. Has anybody checked the air in the council chamber lately? There seems to be a lack of reality. Personally I am not demanding more service, I am demanding less service. Taxes should be reduced.

  • DurhamDude May 21, 2008

    The citizens vote these people into office then complain when they are in office. Any of you thought about running for office yourself and fixing all these problems since y'all have the answers?

  • bs101fly May 21, 2008

    eye it all you want Raleigh, BUT WE'RE NOT SUPPORTING IT!!!!!!
    you people want us to pay for IT ALL and then CRY when we don't want to support school bonds on top of it all, well guess what,

    We're not supporting EITHER!!!!

  • davidgnews May 21, 2008

    coolwill - I second that one.

    One thing these so-called 'leaders' need to do is scale back their overly ambitious projects !