Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Wake school board seeks extra tax for extra dollars

From staff reportsJune 13, 2014 

The school board is asking the Wake County Board of Commissioners to raise property taxes to come up with some extra school dollars.

Commissioners are scheduled to approve a budget Monday that includes a 4.4-cent property tax rate increase to repay the $810 million school construction bond issue approved by voters in October. But Wake school board members noted at a Thursday news conference how voters were told last fall that approving the bond issue could raise taxes 4.86 cents.

The tax increase is lower because of factors such as increased county revenues and lower-than-expected interest rates.

School board member Bill Fletcher said that an additional $6 million to $8 million per year could be generated if commissioners “go ahead and implement the tax increase that the public in effect approved by approving the bonds.”

School board Chairwoman Christine Kushner added that raising the taxes by 4.86 cents is “making sure that we don’t leave any money on the table.”

An extra 0.46 cents on the property tax rate would work out to $11.50 more per year on a $250,000 home.

The proposal drew a negative response from Joe Bryan, vice chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

“I don’t hear anybody wanting to raise taxes on top of taxes,” he said.

‘One person’s bad day’

As the Carrboro Police Department makes plans to buy in-car and body-mounted cameras for its officers, it is developing a policy to protect the rights of both officers and the people they film.

Police Chief Walter Horton told the Board of Aldermen he hopes to buy eight car cameras in the coming year and add additional cameras each year as the department purchases new vehicles.

The aldermen wanted to make sure the policy would protect privacy rights.

Capt. Chris Atack told them there will be no “big brother” aspect to the videos.

“In law enforcement, we meet a lot of people on the worst day of their lives,” Atack said. “They might have had 364 wonderful days of their life that year, but they’re on the 365th day, when it’s the bottom of the pit for them, and here we are creating a record of that day.”

Unless a video is needed by the prosecutor, it will be destroyed after 90 days, he said.

“We don’t want these just popping up out there on YouTube and making one person’s bad day forever,” Atack said.

Taxes for teachers

Durham’s Chamber of Commerce has gone on record supporting state legislation to raise teacher pay, even if it means raising taxes.

In a statement issued this week, the chamber said public education has an “essential role” in creating a workforce to support economic development.

“North Carolina must be prepared to pay teachers competitive and fair salaries,” the statement read, in part. “The chamber ... urges the State Legislature to strongly consider ALL available options ... including: reallocating resources from within the state budget; delaying or reconsidering future tax cuts; and increasing taxes.”

Political events

• Challenges facing public education in North Carolina at all levels will be examined at the N.C. Council of Churches’ biennial Critical Issues Seminar on Monday. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at United Church of Chapel Hill, 1321 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Check-in begins at 8:15 a.m. Mike Ward, former state schools superintendent, will be the keynote speaker. Information: ncchurches.org.

• The Wake Senior Democrats will meet on Wednesday at the Crabtree Marriott starting with lunch at 11 a.m. followed by the program at 11:30 a.m. The topic is “The Ground Game for November,” and speakers will include Brian Fitzsimmons, first vice chair of the Wake County Democratic Party, and Eric Lund, regional field director for the Hagan campaign in Wake County.

• WakeUP Wake County will host a community discussion on water quality and challenges to water protections in the Triangle from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, at the N.C. State McKimmon Center. The event will include presentations by local academic experts about Jordan and Falls Lakes and policy challenges to the region’s water supplies. Registration is free and open to the public at www.wakeupwakecounty.org

Compiled by correspondent Beth Velliquette and staff writers Jim Wise and T. Keung Hui.

Got a tip, item or coming event? Fax Triangle Politics at 919-829-4529, or send e-mail to metroeds@newsobserver.com. Send items by noon Thursday.

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