'Is this the right time?' Wake taxpayers sound off on $1 billion bond package for schools and parks

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ByJoel Brown via WTVD logo
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
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Wake County taxpayers sound off on $1 billion bond package.

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- Amid all the gigantic dollar figures presented to county commissioners on PowerPoint on Monday in commission chambers, Mark Boone gave us a decidedly more low-tech presentation out in the hallway - a line graph poster board illustration of his rising tax rate.

This Raleigh resident who lives off Ebenezer Church Road, where property values are steadily climbing, arrived at the public hearing with a simple message -- the taxes are just too high.

"My taxes over the past 10 years have gone up 144 percent, more than doubled," he said. "I hope that we can continue to live there. But, if the property taxes double again, I've got to think about doing something different."

Monday night marked the lone chance for the public to weigh in on the three bonds that voters would see on November's ballot:

  • $548 million to construct new Wake County schools
  • $349.1 million to build Wake Tech's new campus at RTP
  • $120 million for renovating county parks and building new green spaces

If voters approve the bonds Wake County's property rate would go up 3.8 cents. The tax bill on a $300,000 home would rise $114.

"We've also just had a big increase in our taxes and just wondering is this the right time," Raleigh homeowner Virginia Cassidy told commissioners.

Outgoing commissioner Erv Portman voted with the panel, unanimously in favor of the bonds. But, he doubled-down on his contention that the state is not paying its fair share in school funding; creating an unfair burden on county taxpayers, and tough politics for county commissioners.

"We cannot continue to be put in the situation, year after year when if we do not give the school board everything they ask for, the feeling is we're not funding schools," Portman said during the vote.

County leaders have been making the case that the bonds are the cheapest and most cost-efficient way to borrow the money to fund county priorities.

Voters will make the ultimate decision on whether it's worth it in November.