Local Politics

Residents say Wake County budget needs to provide more funding for schools

Posted May 21, 2018 5:21 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:13 a.m. EDT

Wake County residents have one more chance to share their thoughts on the proposed $1.32 billion budget that takes effect July 1.

The proposed budget includes a 2.9 percent property tax increase that would raise the property tax bill by $58 on a $200,000 home. The proposal would also provide an extra $30.1 million for the Wake County Public School System, which is about half the record $58.9 million increase the school board requested.

Wake County commissioners typically meet twice a month to go through a number of items, but a public comment section at the end of Monday afternoon’s meeting turned into a school funding review session.

“We’ve lost the bulk of our [teacher’s assistants]. They used to help with dismissal, our media assistant used to help with that, but we lost the money for her position a few years ago,” said Sherry Presnall of Apex.

One by one, more than two dozen people who signed up to speak went to the podium. Each person had three minutes to talk and residents addressed concerns they had about the proposed county budget.

Most of the comments were about the additional money the county has proposed to give the school system, saying it’s not enough.

“Early care and early education make children resilient when times are difficult, better reading scores, better high school success, achieving career goals and even good health,” said Angie Welch, chairwoman of Wake County Smart Start.

School funding appeared to play a role in this month’s primary results. Two commissioners, Erv Portman and John Burns, lost to challengers who called for full funding for the school district.

Board members have said that school funding is the highest priority, but Wake County residents can only be taxed so much and there are other needs in the county.

“These teachers have to pay for school supplies after their tax dollars are already taken,” said Apex resident Rusty Carroll.

Another meeting dedicated to hearing public comments will be held Monday night at 7 p.m.

The Board of Commissioners plans to approve a final budget at its June 4 meeting.