RALEIGH — The Democratically-controlled Wake County Board of Commissioners will be raising taxes by 3.75 cents per $100 of assessed value after approving an 8% bump in additional funds to Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS).
The tax hike was unveiled along with the $1.8 billion county budget at the May meeting of the Wake County Board of Commissioners (WBOC) and was unanimously adopted at the following meeting on June 5.
Residents of the county should brace for the recommended 2.75-cent tax increase needed to provide another $65 million in the general fund to cover the county’s spending projections.
Another 1-cent increase will be added on top of the 2.75-cent hike to cover community college and K-12 school capital investment projects.
The tax rate will land at 65.7 cents per $100 of property tax valuation. Using the WBOC’s median home figure of $300,000, homeowners will pay $112.50 more per year compared with the current fiscal year.
While the WBOC’s press release says a $300,000 home is the median assessed value in Wake County, the Wake County Register of Deeds places the median home value at $459,000 as of May 2023.
According to the WBOC press release, “County Manager David Ellis had initially recommended increasing the investment in the Wake County Public School System by $40 million.” The WBOC decided to add $10 million more, bringing the total for WCPSS to $50 million for fiscal year 2023.
The WBOC bump is $5.8 million shy of what WCPSS had asked for.
WCPSS’s budget is already more than $2.14 billion and the school board originally asked the WBOC for a “total of $650,094,842, an increase of $55.8 million, or 9% more than the appropriation we received in 2022-23.”
The full budget total for 2023-24 is $2,145,397,262, however, that does not include the additional $1,019,432,654 in building program funds derived from taxpayer-approved bonds.
One of the top items the additional funds will pay for is salary increases for hourly workers and certified personnel. For hourly workers, it would be a minimum 4% increase or $17 an hour determined by whichever amount is greater. Salaried certified employees would see a 4.5% supplemental pay increase.
Supplemental pay rates are dependent on years of experience and employment. According to the state’s Statistical Profile data, WCPSS’s average supplemental pay rate for the 2022-23 school year is $9,465, the second highest in the state behind Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools at $10,135.
For more than a decade, WCPSS has seen increasing budgets and corresponding additional funding requests to the county.
The district’s 2023-24 budget is a 55.66% increase over the budget submitted 10 years ago.
WCPSS’s 2013-14 budget came in at $1,378,298,829. The board’s chair at the time, Keith Sutton, issued a letter to the WBOC asking for an $8.3 million increase in county appropriations. Reducing class size, training teachers in Common Core, vehicle replacements and expanding the district’s magnet program were all reasons given in support of the allocation increase ask.