Wake commissioners OK annual budget, tax increase
Posted 7:00 p.m. Monday
Updated 7:55 p.m. Monday
Raleigh, N.C. — The Wake County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved a $1.26 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, including a tax increase for local property owners.
Commissioners Jessica Holmes and Greg Ford voted against the budget, saying it doesn't provide enough support for area schools.
The Wake County Public School System requested $45 million in additional funding from the county to keep up with enrollment growth, but County Manager Jim Hartmann included only $16 million of that request in his proposed budget. Hartmann also said the school district should spend $21 million of its surplus funds to cover the most of the rest of its needs.
Commissioners decided Monday to add another $5 million on top of Hartmann's $16 million proposal in new school funding.
Commissioner John Burns cautioned that the community cannot continue to accept annual tax increases for schools and that state lawmakers need to step up and shoulder more of the burden for education funding.
A statement was added to the budget calling on the Board of Commissioners and the school board to work on a rolling multi-year budget to make funding more predictable.
Other changes to Hartmann's proposed budget include the following:
$80,000 so three library branches can add Sunday hours
$50,000 for legal aid to indigent people
$25,000 in emergency funding for residents of a Garner apartment complex who are being displaced because the complex's new owner no longer accepts subsidized tenants
The budget also includes 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.
The 1.45-cent increase to the county's tax rate included in the budget would add $29 to the annual tax bill for the owner of a $200,000 house.