Proposed Wake budget includes tax increase, more school money
Posted May 18, 2015
Updated May 19, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.