Proposed Wake budget includes property tax increase
Posted May 15
Updated May 16
Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann rolled out a $1.26 billion proposed budget for 2017-18 that includes more money for area schools, raises for county employees and a property tax increase for residents.
The proposed 1.45-cent increase to the county's tax rate would add $29 to the annual tax bill for the owner of a $200,000 house.
If the proposed budget is approved, it would mark the fourth straight year county property taxes have gone up.
Hartmann said growth is the driving factor for the tax increase, noting growth is straining county resources. The county population grows by about 67 people each day, he said, up from 64 people a day a few years ago.
The Wake County Public School System would get an extra $16 million under the budget, which also calls for the district to use $21 million in local funds that it does not expect to spend in fiscal year 2017.
The district has had excess money in its budget for the last three years, and this is the first time since Republicans controlled the Board of Commissioners in 2013 that there's been any suggestion of using those unspent dollars to pay for operations."
Although the proposed budget provides only a third of the $45 million in financial support from the county that the school board requested, Hartmann called his education proposal reasonable and responsible.
"I'm recasting the argument here because I think it's the responsible thing to do in light of the fact that we've had tax increases," Hartmann said. "If they take another approach to the budget, they should be able to accommodate their needs this year for that."
School board Chairwoman Monika Johnston-Hostler said the reserve fund is kept for emergencies and isn't meant to fund operations. The district shouldn't be punished for being a good steward of the money it receives, she said.
The board and Superintendent Jim Merrill plan to discuss on Tuesday their budget in light of Hartmann's proposal, and Johnston-Hostler said she looks forward to more dialogue with county commissioners in the coming weeks.
Other increases in the proposed county budget include a 3 percent raise for county employees, additional money to help recruit and retain detention officers at the county jail and to offer signing bonuses and more training to paramedics, funding for seven more school nurses and a nursing supervisor and money for nonprofit partners to open five more food pantries in area schools.
Public hearings will be held on the budget at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on June 5. The Board of Commissioners is expected to adopt a final budget on June 19.