$1.2 billion Wake County budget passes, but leaves school funding short

File photo of Wake County Commissioners

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — On Monday afternoon the Wake County Board of Commissioners passed a $1.2 billion budget, which will cause some cuts for Wake County Public Schools.

Commissioner Betty Lou Ward made a motion to add an additional $5 million to Wake County Schools, but it failed in a five to two vote.

The original proposed budget was then passed in a unanimous vote.

That means the school system will fall nearly $12 million short in local funding.

Before the vote, commissioners heard from concerned parents.

“The facts are that our enrollment is growing, the budget has to grow to cover our enrollment growth, and it needs to grow in order to provide increased quality in public education,” said Ann Campbell, a Wake County parent

The Wake County School System will be getting $23 million from the county in funding.

The school board will now look at what will have to change to make up for the gap in funding.

Below is a press release from Wake County about the budget approval:

With a unanimous vote, the Wake County Board of Commissioners today adopted the county’s $1.2 billion operating budget for Fiscal Year 2017, which runs from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, during its regular meeting. The budget addresses the increasing demands placed on county services as the population continues to grow on average by 64 people a day.

“This is a fair and responsible budget that allows us to strengthen our core services and expand areas where our dynamic population growth has generated additional needs,” said Board Chairman James West. “The budget aligns well with the goals the board has set for the county, and it will help us make progress in accomplishing them in the year ahead.”

A key component of the budget is a 1.35-cent property tax increase above the revenue neutral rate of 58.7 cents, which will generate nearly $18.8 million in new revenue. At the new rate of 60.05 cents on the average home value of $268,600, the additional tax over the revenue neutral rate will be $36 annually. The new tax rate will take effect on July 1.

The funds generated by the property tax will comprise nearly 70 percent of the county’s revenues for FY2017. The remaining 30 percent will come from sales tax, fees charged for services, and funds received from federal, state and local governments.

In addition to the property tax, the Fire Tax District rate will also increase with the passage of the FY2017 budget. It will go up 1.48 cents, bringing the District’s total tax rate to 9.6 cents. Residents who live in the unincorporated areas of the county and the Town of Wendell are charged this tax for fire services.

The FY2017 budget represents a $57.1 million increase over the county’s FY2016 budget. The additional funding will allow the county to:

  • Meet its financial obligations;
  • Enhance its existing services;
  • Improve the quality of life for its most vulnerable residents; and
  • Maintain its commitment to education.

Also, as part of the budget adoption, the commissioners approved a budget ordinance that would move the 2017-2023 Capital Improvement Program for the Wake County Public School System forward. The board supports the development of this long-range planning tool to manage the purchase of land; the expansion, repair and improvement of existing schools; and the construction of new ones.

To see a video of the board meeting or read the budget ordinance, visit our board meeting webpage.

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