Wake County schools need to grow, and you could end up footing the bill. Two proposals are on the table but the bottom line is the same: property taxes could double.
The first proposal would pay to convert more schools to a year-round calendar. It's a $4.2 billion bond package spread out into three referendums over the next decade. The second option is a $5.6 billion proposal, also spread out in three referendums over the next decade. It would cover the costs to build more traditional and year-round schools.
It could mean a double whammy for Wake County homeowners. A property revaluation is already scheduled for 2008, which will likely mean taxes will climb. A tax rate increase could only add to the pain. Real estate analysts say property taxes usually don't play a major role in property values and home sales.
With all that in mind, the question is, would you be willing to pay higher taxes to build new schools?
"It was startling, but we have startling growth in Wake County," said school board chairwoman Patti Head. "We have 6,000 children coming here on a yearly basis, and so we need to be building those schools."
But before the first brick is laid, the public will have to sign off on the cost with a bond referendum in November. The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce will survey the public. Goal one: find out how much the public actually understands about the need for new schools. Goal two: find out how much residents are willing to pay to ease the space crunch.
"The school system is very important to the economic development," said Chamber of Commerce representative Harvey Schmidt.
The Chamber of Commerce is acting independently of the school system. However, their position is not neutral.
"We're very interested in making certain the school system has what it needs, because it makes our job of bringing new jobs to this area easier if we have a good school system," said Schmidt.