Barring any last-minute changes, the Wake County school board will officially find out today that it will get $25 million less than what it wants from county commissioners for the next fiscal year.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners is expected to adopt this afternoon a 2014-15 fiscal year budget that will give the school system around $341 million instead of the $366 million that was requested. Commissioners, or at least the Republican majority, appear reluctant to raise property taxes any higher than the 4.4 cent increase that’s been proposed by County Manager Jim Hartmann to begin repaying the $810 million school construction bond issue approved by voters in October.
The school board has asked for a $39.3 million increase with $10.2 million for new programs and $29.1 million for across-the-board employee raises.
Commissioners appear to be willing to provide the $10,2 million for the new program as well as $3.75 million in funds from excess liquor sales to pay for teacher raises. It wouldn’t require an additional property tax increase to give the school system that extra $14 million.
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During Thursday’s news conference, school board members urged commissioners to raise taxes 4.86 cents because that’s the amount voters were told might be needed if the bond issue passed. The tax increase is only 4.4 cents due to factors such as higher-than-projected county revenues and lower-than-projected interest rates.
“It’s our understanding that were they to go ahead and implement the tax increase that the public in effect approved by approving the bonds, then that then would free up another $6 million to $8 million a year that could be used for either school operating or for paying cash for additional construction,” said school board member Bill Fletcher. “They’ve chosen not to do that at this moment.”
An extra 0.46 cents on the property tax rate would work out to $11.50 more per year on a $250,000 home.