Property tax hike proposed in Wake County budget plan

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Wake County unveils budget proposal.

Wake County property owners can expect to pay more in property taxes next year, should commissioners approve the proposed budget.

County Manager Jim Hartmann presented his $1.2 billion budget for FY 2017 to the Wake County Board of Commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting Monday.

Hartmann set the stage by painting a picture of rapid growth.

"As you know, we're growing by an average of 64 people per day," he said.

Hartmann explained Wake County is the second fastest growing county of more than 1 million people in the nation. During the next decade, the county should grow by about 250,000 people -- think the size of Durham.

With so much growth and building pressure to provide services to a booming population, Hartmann suggests a 1.35-cent property tax increase, bringing the new rate to 60.05 cents.

"If we want to sacrifice our quality of life, we can approach budgets much differently," Hartmann said. "But I don't think that's where this community really wants to be."

The increase would generate nearly $18.8 million in new revenue, of which Wake County Public Schools would be, by far, the biggest recipient.

Last year, the county provided WCPSS the largest single funding increase in county history with an investment of $44.6 million in recurring funds.

This year, the school board asked commissioners for another increase of $35.7 million. But Hartmann proposed a $23.9 million increase instead, explaining that the county focused on per-pupil spending and the statutory requirement for funding new schools slated to open next year. He touted the combined increases in spending for WCPSS amount to a 20-percent increase in funding over two years.

The commissioners will hold two public hearings on the budget and its proposed property tax increase June 6. The first hearing will take place at 2 p.m. in the board room of the Wake County Justice Center. The second will begin at 7 p.m. at the Wake County Commons.

The board will also hold a budget work session at 2 p.m. on June before being asked to adopt the budget at its meeting June 20.

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