Wake County Schools

Wake boards agree: 'Wish list' schools bond too burdensome for taxpayers

Posted March 21, 2013

— If the Wake County Board of Education got everything on their "wish list" $2.2 billion bond, it would mean a nearly 15 cent hike per $100 of assessed property value for county residents, or about $300 more per year for the owner of a $200,000 home.

County commission Chairman Joe Bryan said those figures are a "reality check" and that such a bond is not going to happen.

"I think a double-digit tax increase is unrealistic," he said. "Something moderate in the 3 to 6 cent range, whatever that would support, I would be comfortable there."

In a meeting with the commission Thursday morning, school board members emphasized that they're not advocating putting a $2.2 billion bond on the ballot, but that their needs are quickly outgrowing their current funding. About 3,000 new students enter the school system each year. 

"The needs are huge. We have not put together a structure that takes care of the needs that we have," said Jim Martin. "But just because I have the need doesn't mean we can take care of it in one shot."

County Manager David Cooke said a 15-cent tax increase would add $375 a year to the tax bill for a $250,000 house, which is the average home cost for Wake County. A 3- to 6-cent increase would add $75 to $150 to the property tax on the same home.

Bryan advised the school board to look at needs versus wants to trim their bond proposal. 

"We will be coming back with scenarios and scrutinizing the variables," Bryan said. "It will be a bond issue that's significantly less than $2.2 billion."

Joe Bryan Wake boards agree: $2.2 billion bond too high

The school board said it would take about $2.2 billion over the next three years to keep up with growth. To support increasing enrollment and ease capacity issues, the district would need to build 32 new schools and renovate many existing ones.

Technology needs and security upgrades also rank high among the school system's priorities. 

"Many of the schools are old and decrepit, and furniture is cracked," said county commissioner Betty Lou Ward. "We need to look at all of that to put together a program that will work today and in the future."

Bryan has said the schools bond is the commission's top priority and that he hopes to have a referendum on the fall ballot. Some school board members, however, have advised waiting until 2014.

They'll have to agree on a bond amount by June.

Both boards agree – no matter what bond amount appears on the ballot in October, there's no short-term fix for growing needs in the state's largest school system.

"Not only are we going to look at this bond issue, but we're going to be looking at future bond issues every three to four years of a significant amount," Bryan said. 

Thursday's meeting was a rare moment of consensus between the two boards. Tension has been mounting in recent months after commissioners asked the General Assembly to transfer control of schools buildings and land from the school board to the commission.

The two sides say they're committed to working together to get a bond passed, but others say the in-fighting is damaging to the community.

On Wednesday, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce called for a truce between the school board and county commissioners.

210 Comments

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  • Cary Progressive Mar 25, 2:45 p.m.

    Conservatives want to destroy public education. Anything else you hear is lies from them. At least Ronald Reagan was honest about it.

    Here's their strategy for dumbing down America's kids so that the uber-rich can suck every last penny of America's wealth.

    http://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/a-confederacy-of-reformers/

    They are evil, stateless actors enabled by clueless, misguided masses of conservatives who are guided by hate and the need to feel they're above someone else, anyone.

  • junkmail5 Mar 22, 6:30 p.m.

    Not if everyone would pay for their child to go to school. Does anyone ever ask the question as to why its always the homeowners responsibility? What's that all about?
    meeper

    Because educated children are a benefit to the entire community.

    And again it's not just homeowners- apartment dwellers simply have the property tax share of their apartment passed along to them in their rent by the landlord.

  • meeper Mar 22, 6:19 p.m.

    Not if everyone would pay for their child to go to school. Does anyone ever ask the question as to why its always the homeowners responsibility? What's that all about?

  • djofraleigh Mar 22, 5:42 p.m.

    Please, County Commissioners, control growth via sewer/water/building permits to a pace that is manageable.

  • junkmail5 Mar 22, 5:42 p.m.

    "The chart also shows we're tied with Texas for 17th in Sales tax rate"

    And to think, TX doesn't have an income tax, oh snap!
    Nanc

    you're aware sales and income tax aren't the same thing, right?

    No, you must not be, otherwise why mention it?

    FYI- they are different things.

    Their property tax is about double ours though, to get this back to the topic of the article :)

  • Nancy Mar 22, 5:21 p.m.

    "The chart also shows we're tied with Texas for 17th in Sales tax rate"

    And to think, TX doesn't have an income tax, oh snap!

  • junkmail5 Mar 22, 3:38 p.m.

    This chart might be useful though-

    http://modernsurvivalblog.com/retreat-living/lowest-to-highest-taxes-by-state/

    NC ranks #36 out of 50 states in "highest" property taxes

    So...pretty low on a state by state basis. Obviously some counties inside the state are higher than others.

    The chart also shows we're tied with Texas for 17th in Sales tax rate on a state-by-state basis... so at least we're in the top half this time, but not "one of the highest" unless you use a pretty broad definitions of it.

    Income tax is the only area we're in the neighborhood of the top 10 states... (and even then barely- though you'd need to pick an income level to decide where exactly we rank since our scale isn't the same as other states scales)

  • junkmail5 Mar 22, 3:32 p.m.

    And according to this list, NC is the 7th worst state for taxes, even though Junk and Plenty Coups always claim the lowest.- DoingMyBes

    never said any such a thing actually...

    You might be confusing the time I corrected someone when they incorrectly claimed NC was in the top 3 in highest state income tax rates.... (which they aren't)

  • DoingMyBest Mar 22, 3:18 p.m.

    "Wake County has one of the highest median property taxes in the United States, and is ranked 571st of the 3143 counties in order of median property taxes."

    And according to this list, NC is the 7th worst state for taxes, even though Junk and Plenty Coups always claim the lowest.

    http://money.msn.com/retirement-plan/c_galleryregular.aspx?cp-documentid=250574718

  • Nancy Mar 22, 2:19 p.m.

    westernwake - the details of the 20,000 pages of Obamacare are starting to come forth, with tweaks being added and building on such a mess of law it will boggle even the most ardent to figure out how damaging it is. This much is known and it gives us a glimpse of how bad it will no doubt be:

    "As this start date draws near, evidence is piling up that ObamaCare will: Boost insurance costs. Officially the "Affordable Care Act," ObamaCare promised to lower premiums for families. But regulators decided to impose a 3.5% surcharge on insurance plans sold through federally run exchanges. There's also a $63 fee for every person covered by employers. And the law adds a "premium tax" that will require insurers to pay more than $100 billion over the next decade. The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation expects insurers to simply pass this tax onto individuals and small businesses, boosting premiums another 2.5%."

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