Local Politics

Raleigh, Wake change course, raise taxes

Posted June 17, 2015
Updated June 18, 2015

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— Raleigh residents are about to take two hits to the wallet.

Although 2015-16 budgets for much of the Triangle don't raise property taxes, both Raleigh and Wake County officials passed tax increases that take effect in July.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners voted to raise the property tax rate by 3.65 cents, while the Raleigh City Council approved a budget that includes a 1.72-cent increase to the tax rate.

Combined, the two increases will mean an extra $80.55 in property taxes next year for the owner of a $150,000 home.

That is in stark contrast to recent years, when local residents enjoyed a steady tax rate. Asside from increases tied to voter-approved bond referendums, Wake County hasn't adjusted its tax rate since 2008, and Raleigh's only change in that time was 1-cent increase to its rate last year.

Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University, said Wednesday that changing economic conditions are likely behind the recent tax increases.

"During recessions, the point is to keep the lights on. So, public officials rightly think, 'Wait a minute. Let's not go off and do any big projects. We just want to keep the books balanced,'" Walden said. "Then, when things improve, as they have, they look around and see, 'Well, we want to build some new parks, and maybe we want to fund the schools more.'"

Much of the Wake County increase would go toward funding local schools, while Raleigh's increase is targeted at various services, from fire stations to expanded parks to infrastructure.

Raleigh homeowner Ron Aycock said that he doesn't mind the recent property tax increases, pointing to the heavy load that local governments carry.

"I need to pay for what I get," Aycock said. "We have police protection, fire protection. We have infrastructure, streets, water and sewer that need to be maintained."

Still, Ed Jones, chairman of the Wake County Taxpayers Association, said that local leaders need to be more fiscally conservative.

"I know we have some needs," Jones said. "We just can't keep spending, spending, spending and taxing, taxing, taxing people. There comes a limit, and I think small-business people now who are struggling to recover from the recession and people of more modest means will suffer."

All property in Wake County will be revaluated in 2016, so the tax rates will likely drop as property values are adjusted upward.

Even with lower tax rates, however, tax bills may not go down.

"As you squeeze more people into a given area, land values are going to go up. It will be more expensive to build schools, build roads. So, long term, we may be looking at higher tax rates to keep up with this tremendous growth," Walden said. "That’s the cost of living in a metropolitan area, particualry a growing one."

In addition to that, Wake County commissioners are already talking about putting a multimillion-dollar school bond and a half-cent transit tax on the 2016 ballot, and Raleigh residents could see a bond initiative in the near future to help pay for transforming the Dorothea Dix campus into a major park.

10 Comments

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  • Joseph Smith Jun 18, 2015
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    And they wonder why working people can't save for retirement.

  • Paul Donovan Jun 18, 2015
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    View quoted thread


    The entire Board of Commissioners and the entire school board (except 1 who acts like a Democrat) are all Democrats.

  • Paul Donovan Jun 18, 2015
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    No need to mention that Ron Aycock, just a typical "Raleigh homeowner" in favor of tax hikes was the CEO of the NC Association of County Commissioners for over 30 years.

  • Joseph Smith Jun 18, 2015
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    Big Education must be fed. When the dismal achievement persists what will be their excuse?
    We'll just be paying more and more for the same mediocrity.

  • Tom Boswell Jun 18, 2015
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    View quoted thread


    Todd no one wants to read your rhetoric. Lets see some facts how the tax increases by the 100% Wake County Commissioners are not the responsibility of the Democratic party. in typical Democratic way you deflect the facts. Oh wait it is George Bush's fault!!!

  • Todd Whitmer Jun 18, 2015
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    I think it is sad yet comical that anyone would blame this on democrats. Just shows how delusional republicans truly are---

  • Tom Boswell Jun 18, 2015
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    "All property in Wake County will be revaluated in 2016, so the tax rates will likely drop as property values are adjusted upward". Julia Sims are you kidding. Besides the natural increases we will be paying in real estate taxes because of increase values the rate will be going up well over 30% in the next several years. Do the math on my previous post and read what they want to do over the next several years . This is them talking. Dropping the rates LOL!!!!

  • Tom Boswell Jun 18, 2015
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    Wake County teachers just received one of their largest raises in history. The new state budget includes additional teacher raises yet our Democratic school board feels the need to give them a third raise in two years. This has increased our real estate taxes by over 15.3% in these two years. The bond passed in November of 2013 increased taxes by 9%. Merrill and the board increased it another 6.3% with this budget. Add it up. Look at the future increases. In November of 2016 they will be presenting a billion dollar school bond that will increase it another 11%. The school system’s plan to increase new teachers’ salaries would step up $16 million per year for five years, adding up to $80 million annually by the fiscal year 2020. Along with other costs, that could create deficits of $20 million per year. If 48 million increased our taxes 7% this year than just salary increases of 16 million will increase our rate 2.3% a year for the next five years. Add these up. We could be talking

  • Joseph Smith Jun 18, 2015
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    The latest assault on working people.

  • Paul Blart Jun 17, 2015
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    Hope yall at least get a pair of hipster glasses for that increase. Yall will need em to fit in down there soon. Se yall at the mall!