Wake County officials see a need for a 4.25-cent property tax hike (per $100 valuation) to cover the expense of a seven-year construction program for the Wake schools and Wake Technical Community College. That’s a boost of around $115 a year for the homeowner with property at the average assessed value of $270,778.
If there’s a bargain to be had in Wake County, it is the public school system which enrolls more than 160,000 students and Wake Tech, which provides college-level courses in a variety of academic and life-enhancing subjects at low cost to students. County officials know that public education at the quality delivered here draws business and improves quality of life for residents.
That’s why, when the need is there, county residents tend to support an answer for that need.
And they do so on all kinds of public projects. Last November, voters supported a sales tax increase to help fund a 10-year plan to add commuter rail and better bus service throughout the county as part of an overall plan to improve transit. The step had been delayed for years by a Republican-dominated board of commissioners, but voters sent the incumbents packing.
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And in 2013, voters backed a school construction bond of 10 years and $2.3 billion. The property tax rate went up by 5.53 cents per $100 valuation.
Do people like paying higher property taxes? They most certainly do not. But Wake residents see around them, all day every day, the benefits of the taxes they pay, particularly in an exceptional school system that is the state’s largest.
And those taxpayers understand that with a projection of an increase of 25,000 students over the next seven years, the needs for new schools and renovations are clear.
Will there be opponents to even a modest tax hike? There always are. Some who moved to Wake County from other regions of the country enjoy their relatively low tax rate and want to maintain it, and perhaps they don’t have kids in school and wonder why they should have to pay more taxes to support them.
The answer’s easy: Good schools translate into good business, and good business in a growing county holds the tax rate down for all because it brings in more tax revenue. Iinvestment in schools and other public works maintains quality of services.
In Wake County, with an efficient local government and a high-quality school system, taxpayers get their money’s worth, and there is every reason, every reason, to believe they will continue to enjoy a great return on their investment.