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Proposed Wake budget includes tax increase, more school money

Posted May 18, 2015
Updated May 19, 2015

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— Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann on Monday proposed a $1.13 billion budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The budget includes $34.6 million more in funding to the Wake County Public School System, a 10.1 percent increase over current levels. Hartmann said the increase is the largest one-year jump in county funding to the school district.

The $376 million allocated to the district is still almost $13 million short of Superintendent Jim Merrill's $389.8 million request to deal with growing enrollment and efforts to increase student performance.

“A quality education system and an educated workforce are two of our most important economic development tools. They’re important for all of North Carolina, not just Wake County,” Hartmann said in a statement. “As I promised last year, I’m committed to working with Superintendent James Merrill to develop a long-term funding plan to support the school system’s strategic initiatives for improving student achievement.”

Overall, the proposed budget is $67 million, or 6.3 percent, larger that the 2014-15 county budget.

To pay for the growth in school funding and other programs, Hartmann is recommending a 2.9-cent increase to the county's property tax rate, raising it from 57.8 cents per $100 valuation to 60.7 cents. The increase would add $58 to the annual tax bill for a $200,000 home.

“Although we’ve become more efficient in some areas, our gains in efficiency are not keeping pace with the rising demand for service,” Hartmann said. “We have to find opportunities to do more without further decreasing our expenditures, while, at the same time, being measured in our funding increases.”

Wake County hasn't had a property tax increase that wasn't linked to paying off new bonds since 2006.

The following increases also are proposed in the budget:

  • Converting EMS crews from 24-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts, which officials said would increase flexibility to meet demands
  • Start-up costs and operating expenses for new Wake Technical Community College facilities
  • Money for the Wake County Board of Elections to pay for the March presidential primary and changes to early voting next year.
  • 25 new full- and part-time employees for Wake County Human Services
  • Money to open and operate the Northeast Regional Library and to partially restore funding for library books
  • 15 new positions in the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, primarily to better serve the growing number of inmates with mental health and substance abuse problems

Public hearings on the budget are set for 2 p.m. June 1 at the Wake County Justice Center downtown and 7 p.m. June 1 at the county Commons Building on Carya Drive. The county Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on the budget on June 15.

21 Comments

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  • Tom Boswell May 19, 2015
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    You are the perfect voter for Merrill and the Democrats.

  • Tom Boswell May 19, 2015
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    The last bond issue in 2013 increased the tax rate by 9% and that was for 812 million. This increase for the budget is 5%. In November they will be presenting over a billion dollar bond. Add up the numbers if you can or use a calculator. It will be well over 27%.

  • Joseph Smith May 19, 2015
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    Working people have been assaulted time after time. A little bit at a time. Only a few more dollars. Then next year just a few more. Big education will never be satisfied. Bloated and very inefficient. Just a few more dollars............for the children.

  • Tammy Rush May 19, 2015
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    "$2.5 million for Wake County Human Services for 25 new full- and part-time employees"

    That's $100k average for each new employee.

    "$1.4 million for 15 new positions in the Wake County Sheriff’s Office"

    That's roughly $93k per job.

    Almost 4 MILLION DOLLARS for 40 new jobs. That is CRAZY.

  • Terry Watts May 19, 2015
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    27%?!? LOL! Way to pull some numbers out of thin air... As for my number, I got it from the article. If you want to dispute it, show us your citations.

    Until then, here is what I found about the last Education Bond: in 2011, Wake's school bond increased property taxes approximately 5.5 cents per $100 of assessed value.

    http://www.greatschoolsinwake.org/school-construction-bond/

    If our current rate is 57.8, the previous rate was 52.3. That is a increase of approx 10%. and comes out to about $150 for a $200k house.

    Like I said before: nice hysterics...

  • Tom Boswell May 19, 2015
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    have you been out of the country in the last two years. Where is your $58 coming from. The Democratic school board with the 2013 bond, this increase and the bond November of this year will be increasing real estate tax rates by 27%.

  • Tom Boswell May 19, 2015
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    Where in the heck are you getting $60. The Democratic school board with the 2013 bond, this increase and the bond November of this year will be increasing real estate tax rates by 27%.

  • Terry Watts May 19, 2015
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    So you agree with someone who is going to become one of the freeloaders you hate b/c he doesn't want to pay an additional $60 to educate his and your children and grandchildren...

  • Terry Watts May 19, 2015
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    Well that's your prerogative... enjoy the food stamps!

  • Sean Coates May 19, 2015
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    I sure will! Everyone not rich and privileged like you! If government wants to keep misusing funds I might as well too.

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