Is a small property tax increase a better alternative than going for a big bond referendum next year to pay for Wake County school construction needs?
As noted in today's article by Thomas Goldsmith, county staff told the Wake County Board of Commissioners on Monday that a 2.7-cent property tax increase would raise $150 million a year for county schools construction. This could be used to delay a school bond issue for three years, paying for $450 million in new schools and renovations.
That $450 million would likely be smaller than what the school board would request in a 2013 bond referendum.
One potential benefit of delaying the school bond is to avoid having voters decide on bond referendums in consecutive years. Commissioners are weighing whether to put a $200 million bond referendum for Wake Technical Community College on this November's ballot.
Wake Tech is ahead of the school system for a bond vote because, among other things, the plan to use the money is already in place. The school board is still in the early stages of drawing up the next construction program.
But commissioners may balk at any school construction plan that raises taxes.
Board chairman Paul Coble said Monday he’d want to know more about schools’ current spending before considering a tax hike. The size of the schools’ rainy day fund concerns Coble.
The 2.7-cent tax increase per $100 of assessed value would cost the owner of a $200,000 house about $54 a year.
If commissioners balk at that 2.7 cent tax hike or a bond issue that raises taxes, there's not much money that will be available to cover K-12 school construction.