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Raleigh '08-'09 budget approved with 4.18-cent tax-rate hike

Posted June 23, 2008
Updated June 24, 2008

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— The city council Monday approved a budget of nearly $643 million that will bump the property tax rate by 4.18 cents.

In a 5-2 vote late in the afternoon, the council approved the plan that will put the 2008-09 tax rate at 37.35 cents per $100 of taxable value.The city manager's proposed budget would have raised the rate 5 cents.

"The FY09 budget contains $4.7 million of new investment for staff and equipment. Of this, $3.2 million is additional funding for public safety," a city spokeswoman said in reporting the decision. That includes 12 new police officer positions, a 5 percent raise in starting salaries for police and firefighters, six new 911 call-taker slots and a new fire station.

The budget also will put money toward a new fire and police headquarters and to work on parks. Fuel for vehicles is taking a bigger slice of the pie, too. Some road projects will be put on hold.

At the same time costs are rising, a slowing economy is reducing revenues, including sales taxes.

"Really, this is a year that we should have exhibited great restraint, versus increasing the budget as much as we did," Councilman Philip Isley said.

"You can always say wait, do it some other time. Frankly, there never is a good time to do these projects, and the best time is to go ahead now before they become even more expensive," Mayor Charles Meeker said.

The tax rate, which the city said is "among the very lowest" municipal tax rates in the state, is actually lower than the figure taxpayers saw on their bills for 2007-08. Wake County revalued property at the end of 2007, however, and that changed the calculus for talking about tax rates.

If the council had not changed anything from its last budget, the revaluation would have resulted in an even lower tax rate this time around – 33.17 cents. That is the number officials used in calculating the increase approved Monday.

A tax bill is the result of the tax rate multiplied by the assessed value. While one number is lower than last year, values are, on average, 38 percent higher, and the final number will, on average, be higher. What happens for each property depends on how its value changed in the reassessment. City officials estimate the fiscal 2009 budget will mean an $80 tax-bill increase on a $200,000 home.

The council also voted to raise water and sewer rates 15 percent, which the city said works out to $4.86 more a month for an average residential account. The budget also will move the city to a tiered rate system no later than mid-2009, a change that will charge more money as customers use more water.

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  • GetRight Jun 24, 2008

    Here's a thought: How about we open the books to the public and see if someone can find some justifiable fat to trim?

  • PaulRevere Jun 24, 2008

    LOL at all of us who bowed before Meeker and cut water consumption. And because we used less they got less revenue and now they raise the rates! I shall remember this next election...not that I'd ever vote for a democrat anyways.

  • ncwebguy Jun 24, 2008

    City council listened to its citizens and approved raises for police officers, added officers, is building a new fire station, and is starting to put aside money for a new police HQ.

    That costs mone, more money than growth is bringing in.

    Truth is, Raleigh's taxes are low compare to other municipalities. Other people can claim "bull" and offer no proof (standard operating procedure in whinerville) but here are the cold hard numbers (before this year's numbers):

    http://www.wakegov.com/NR/rdonlyres/...xRates2007.pdf

    http://www.johnstonnc.com/files/taxo...xrates2007.xls

    You get what you pay for, and you pay for what you get. We have the council that won their seats, not appointed.

    Why should we not be voting out the Wake County BOC? They raised taxes unnecessarily during a period of growth, right?

    Oh, wait, they're Republicans, so they can do no wrong? They shouldn't be held accountable for wanting to give free parking decks to the rich? Flip-flop much?

  • BR549 Jun 24, 2008

    Ahhh! Socialism - my pocket book can feel it coming ...

  • wolff Jun 24, 2008

    Nice ... they raise the tax value of my house, then raise taxes on the house plus water and sewer even higher... What happened to all those moving in that are suppose to be bringing in so much money? Do they have to keep adding more and more to the budget? Anyone have a list of those who voted for and against this? I want to keep that in mind next election.

  • davidgnews Jun 24, 2008

    I'm glad I don't live in Raleigh any more. Those so-called 'leaders' are nuts - why can't they cut back on some of their grandiose plans for once?

    Oh I get it - someone has to have a bridge or something named after them for their 'accomplishments.'

  • streetfightinman Jun 24, 2008

    ONE NAME SAYS IT ALL
    "TAX HIKE MIKE"

  • rpd911 Jun 24, 2008

    WRAL got it half wrong this time. Or is it an intentional misqoute to mislead the citizens of Raleigh. The 5% increase in pay for Police is not a 5% pay increase. It only applies to the base salary for STARTING police. Don't think that the city is giving the entire police force a raise, God forbid they do that. They are only giving a raise in the starting salary. I'm sure the same goes for Fire.

  • john60 Jun 24, 2008

    Steve,

    Residential areas demand lots of government services; police, fire, garbage pickup, sewer, road maintenance, utilities, etc, etc, etc. If a city tries to pay for all of that with residential property taxes alone, they'll end up with high taxes. You didn't mention what town you grew up in, but I suspect it was not as large as Raleigh, and that was years if not decades ago. Property taxes are just part of it; local sales taxes and "user fees", and of course, deciding what a "legitimate civic need" is are also important.

  • Carolina Conservative Jun 24, 2008

    And people still elect the same cronies election after election. Time to give those career politicians some time off folks.

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