Raleigh leaders approved the city's budget — and corresponding property tax increase — with little discussion Monday afternoon.
The $971.4 million budget also includes a 1.6 percent increase to the monthly water and sewer bill — lower than the city manager's recommended increase of 3 percent. It will cost the average water and sewer customer $0.91 more per month.
Council member Nicole Stewart was critical of the decision to not move forward with the full 3 percent increase.
"As the only environmental professional on this council, I’ve seen what happens when we don’t invest in programs that protect our water, air and public health, and I cannot send Raleigh down that road," she said at a May meeting, when the council first voted to increase the rates by 1.6 percent rather than 3 percent.
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The 1.29 cent increase on the city property tax rate was authorized by voters last year after a majority of city voters backed the $206.7 million transportation bond, which will widen roads, build new sidewalks and bicycle lanes, and support a range of transportation projects within the city. The increase will cost the average homeowner $25.36 more on their city property tax bills.
There were no other tax increases included in the city's budget. The new city property tax rate, effective July 1, will be 43.82 cents per $100 valuation.
The city has raised property tax rates every year for the past five years, and this increase comes on top of a nearly 4-cent increase to the county property tax rate by the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
Pullen Park and Chavis Park amusement ride tickets will also go up from $1 to $1.50 on Monday, July 2, under the approved budget. The pricing for the pedal boats at Pullen Park will remain at $6 per boat.
Raleigh City Council did make a slight adjustment to the budget to increase funding to a handful of nonprofits and organizations during the Monday work session. The following organizations will receive some money from the city after originally not being included in the city manager's recommended budget: Blue Ridge Corridor Alliance, Burning Coal Theatre Company, Joel Lane House Museum, Marbles Kid Museum, Prison Aftercare Ministries, Sister Cities Association of Raleigh and Southeast Raleigh Innovations Challenge.
An additional $5,000 was also included for training for the city's planning commissioner and $23,070 for the city's summer youth employment program.
About 800 students applied for one of the coveted summer jobs through the youth employment program this year. The additional money will allow the city to increase the number of spots for teenagers and young adults to 200.
Raleigh Mayor Pro Tem Corey Branch's first job was in the summer youth employment program. He said the city still has a long way to go to fill the demand but this is a step in the right direction.
"This is a way for students and young people to get experience and careers in government and overall," he said. "It prepares them for their future."
Here's a look at some of the other things included in the city's budget:
- A ladder truck and engine within the fire department and leaf collection equipment will be replaced. Also adds "improved equipment and technology in police vehicles."
- Adds new positions within the planning, police and communications departments, plus nine positions from the transportation bond.
- Money to install public Wi-Fi at 11 community centers and pools.
- A pay increase of either 3 percent or 5 percent for public safety and general step employees and a merit-based increase for all of the city's broadband (administrative and executive) employees.
- Renovation of Fire Station 11.
- A total of $22 million toward the city's affordable housing efforts.