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Durham Raises Property Taxes to Pay for Downtown Parking

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DURHAM — For the first time in six years, the city of Durham is raising property taxes.

The City Council approved a one-cent tax increase Monday night to help pay for improvements to downtown, including the city's share of the American Tobacco Renovation project.

Some in the Bull City believe the tax increase could be better spent elsewhere.

A majority of the public comments blasted the idea of raising property taxes to help pay for the American Tobacco plant revitalization.

More noteworthy, however, was that a majority of the public stayed home and did not come to protest a 1 percent increase in one of North Carolina's most highly-taxed cities.

It appears most council members agree with downtown boosters, who say paying for a fraction of the $200 million project will have a positive impact on Durham in the long run.

"This is not public welfare for a corporation," said Downtown Durham Inc. president Bill Kalkhof. "This is about parking for downtown and its future growth."

The measure passed by a vote of 11 to 1.

The increase means the owner of a home valued at $150,000 will pay $15 more in property taxes.

The council also approved a study of a 5,000-seat theater that would be next to the American Tobacco complex.

Capitol Broadcasting, which owns WRAL-TV and WRAL OnLine, is spearheading the American Tobacco project.