Wake County passes budget that would raise taxes, money for schools
Posted June 15, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County homeowners will face a 3.65-cent property tax increase to help pay for the largest one-year jump in county funding to the Wake County Public School System.
The tax hike comes after county commissioners, in a 5-2 vote, approved the county’s 2015-16 budget on Monday.
The property tax increase translates into an additional $73 a year for a $200,000 home.
Wake County homeowners have not had a property tax increase not linked to paying off new bonds since 2006.
Board Chairman James West and Vice Chair Caroline Sullivan voted against the plan.
The vote marked the first time West rejected a final budget. He said he worries about how funding cut from libraries will affect low-income residents.
"I think if we let the state completely off the hook, not only will it put the burden on our citizens, but I think somehow we may even have to pay double before it's over," he said.
Commissioners John Burns and Matt Calabria said they’re against raising taxes, but pointed to cuts in education funding at the state level and said the county would have to fill the gaps.
"We are going to do what we can, but make no mistake, this is a hole and we're dealing with headwinds not of our own making," Burns said.
Wake County schools Superintendent Jim Merrill asked for an additional $48.3 million from the county. Commissioners agreed to a $44.6 million funding increase.
Other items included in the budget include:
- Converting EMS crews from 24-hour to 12-hour shifts, which officials said would increase flexibility to meet demands.
- Increasing Wake Technical Community College funding to cover start-up costs and operating expenses for new facilities.
- Increasing Wake County Board of Elections funding to pay for the March presidential primary and changes to early voting next year.
- Adding 25 new full- and part-time employees to Wake County Human Services.
- Opening the Northeast Regional Library and partially restoring funding for library books.
- Adding 15 new positions at the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, to better serve the increasing number of inmates with mental health and substance abuse problems.