The proposed budget calls for raising property taxes one and three-quarter cents for the 2015-16 budget year, according to the preliminary budget released by the town last week.
The tax increase was expected, as it will help pay off the debt service for the bond referendum that voters passed in 2013.
A tax increase of one and three-quarter cents per $100 of accessed value, is the equivalent of a $31.85 increase on the average $181,982 home.
Taxes increased one penny, last year, to help fund additional personnel for the fire department. That was the equivalent of about $20 on the average home. The extra 1.75 cents, together with last year’s 1-cent hike, equals the total 2.75-cent increase Davenport & Associates recommended increasing.
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“Without those tax increases, to help cover that we would essentially have to cover the increase in our debt service and cover all the other additional town services with the same revenue,” said Michael Gammon, the budget analyst and special projects manager.
The county is also expected to raise taxes in the new budget year to fund new construction and renovations of schools, including Garner Magnet High and Vandora Springs Elementary. It is also the year the county reassesses property value of homes, although property taxes will not be calculated on those new values until next year.
One of the areas that saw the biggest increase in budget was the inspections department. That department has been provided with more resources and technology to keep up with the growth.
Gammon said with the town seeing substantial growth from areas over on White Oak and Greenfield, the town is also seeing more demand, especially from the development department.
“I’d say this is the first year after the Great Recession where you see that growth and demands for services from the town,” he said.
Voters in 2013 authorized the town to issue up to $35.7 million in general obligation bonds for constructing, widening and improving streets and sidewalks, improving and expanding parks, greenways and recreational facilities, including the construction of a new indoor recreation center, redeveloping downtown and renovation/constructing a new police station and new Town Hall.
During the April 23 town council meeting, Gammon presented an update on the bond projects. According to staff, all projects are on track to be finished as projected except two.
The Buffaloe Road sidewalk project is delayed because of the City of Raleigh’s sewer line project on the north side of Buffaloe Road
The Greenway project is also delayed. The town set aside $750,000 in funds that would be used construct greenways that would link to parks, neighborhoods, schools and key community features
“Everything that we can control is on track,” Gammon said.
The police station is under construction and the design of the recreation center is under schematic design. The recreation center is still expected to start construction in early 2016 and will open its doors in 2017.