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County leaders raise taxes more than was proposed

Zebulon budget leaves tax rate unchanged

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RALEIGH — A majority of the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to raise property taxes by more than 10 percent — even higher than what the county manager had recommended.

The new property tax rate will be 72.07 cents per $100 in valuation. That is more than the 71.80-cent rate proposed by County Manager David Ellis last month, and 6.63 cents more than the current tax rate.

The additional revenue will bring funding to the Wake County Public School System closer to the school board’s requested level.

The school district had requested $48 million more than it received last year. Ellis recommended increasing school funding by about $37 million. But with the even higher tax rate, commissioners are increasing school funding by $45 million, according to the News & Observer.

Commissioner Sig Hutchinson was the only commissioner to vote against the budget. The News & Observer quoted him saying that he was OK with incremental tax increases “but I believe this is too much.”

A 3.8-cent tax increase was needed to fund construction projects approved by voters last year. The remainder of the increase funds additional county and school operating expenses.

There will be 20 additional EMT and paramedic positions, 14 new positions at the county’s child welfare division, and additional funds for the Wake County Board of Elections.

The budget also funds construction of three libraries and a plan to eliminate late fees at all libraries.

Zebulon

Also on Monday, commissioners in the town of Zebulon adopted a new budget that leaves the tax rate unchanged.

The $12 million spending plan calls for a 59.2-cent tax rate per $100 in valuation.

The budget is also bigger than in previous years — town revenues and expenses have grown more than 20 percent compared to three years ago.

Town Manager Joe Moore said Zebulon’s population is growing by nearly two people a day, and that land use is moving away from agriculture and toward development. Those changes informed his budget recommendations.

“This was a question for this budget,” Moore said. “Do we have the capacity to meet this change? Can we handle the volume? Will we also have the capability to meet this change? Can we handle the diversity that is headed our way?”

Major new expenses in the budget include sidewalks on North Arendell Avenue, various road improvements and stormwater work.

The budget was unanimously approved by the commissioners present — Beverly Clark, Curtis Strickland, Dale Beck and Annie Moore — without further discussion.

“We have a lot of things to work on in this town, and I think this is a big step toward that,” Beck said afterward.

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