Property tax increase possible for Wake County homeowners?

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- People living in Wake County could see their property taxes go up soon.

During a work session Monday, county commissioners talked about what it would take to fully fund the school system's $48 million budget increase.

County Manager Jim Hartmann's $1.1 billion budget only provides for a $34.6 million increase for Wake County Schools, which would come with a 2.9-cent property tax increase.

For the school system to get all $48 million of what it's requested, commissioners will need to approve a 3.9-cent increase on property taxes, which would mean that average homeowner pays $104 more per year.

It's something commissioners say the people of Wake County made clear they support at a public hearing last week.

"Clearly, we feel that the citizens are for us," Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson said. "We value public education. We value our teachers. We understand the value of good strong public education so what I believe our citizens are saying, 'We're willing to pay for that.'"

Commissioner Caroline Sullivan supports the budget as is, saying it's a matter of sustainability.

"You cannot just give one appropriation one year and expect the needs to go away," she said. "Every single year we are going to need to fund them more for not only the growth of the new students but to give them some flexibility in new programming."

Just last year, the tax rate was raised by 4.4 cents to help pay for new school construction.

Wake County School Superintendent Jim Merrill says their requested increase this year will go to raising teacher salaries.

The issue will be decided at their meeting next Monday. It's still unclear which way commissioners will go. They only need four commissioners to support a 3.9-cent hike.

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