Local Politics

Proposed budgets in Durham, Chatham County include tax increases

Posted May 17, 2010 9:21 p.m. EDT
Updated May 18, 2010 1:49 p.m. EDT

— Residents in Durham and Chatham County would see their property taxes go up next year under budget proposals presented Monday night by Durham City Manager Thomas Bonfield and Chatham County Manager Charlie Horne.

Bonfield's $353.4 million spending plan for the 2010-11 fiscal year, which starts in July, would be a 2.2 percent increase from the budget Durham City Council approved last year.

“As with last year, we continue to face unprecedented economic times in our community, state and nation," Bonfield said in a statement. "Much of the budget development process focused on prioritizing programs and services and allocating resources to the highest priorities identified by the community and the City Council."

His budget proposal calls for raising the property tax rate by 1.19 cents to help offset costs for voter-approved bond projects. The increase would bring the tax rate to 55.19 cents per $100 valuation.

The average home value in Durham is $161,700, meaning the higher tax rate would add $19.24 to the average tax bill.

The proposed budget also would lay off 15 city workers and eliminate 16 vacant positions, suspend merit raises for the year and increase fees for parking, solid waste disposal, water and sewer use and stormwater runoff.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for June 7 at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers at 101 City Hall Plaza. Final budget approval is set for June 21.

In Chatham County, Horne's $84.6 million budget proposal would raise the property tax rate by 2.5 cents to fund schools and open new facilities.

Chatham County Schools will open Margaret Pollard Middle School in the fall, and the county also plans to open three parks, a library and two classroom buildings at Central Carolina Community College in the coming year.

School spending would increase by 6 percent in the proposed budget, while other expenses would be cut by 4 percent, including a freeze for a second straight year on merit raises for county employees.

"These are painful decisions, but we have no choice in this economy,” Horne said in a statement. “We continue to ask more of county employees and would like to be able to increase salaries.”

The Chatham County Board of Commissioners will hold public hearings on the proposed budget at 6 p.m. June 1 in the Multipurpose Room at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro and 6 p.m. June 2 in the Siler City courtroom.