The Wake County school system might be in line to get as much as $10 million more from county commissioners this year.
During today's operating budget presentation, it was repeatedly mentioned that county commissioners don't know how much of an increase the school board will request. Interim Superintendent Stephen Gainey is expected to present a budget proposal to the school board in March.
County Manager David Cooke noted that last year, as has sometimes happened in the past, they gave the school system a proportionate share of the growth in the tax base. If that's done again, Cooke said that would mean around an $8 million increase.
Commissioner Tony Gurley quickly interjected "that’s hypothetically."
Commissioner Paul Coble asked if that $8 million would be tied into that $600 million potential school construction bond issue they're talking about for this October. Earlier in the meeting, Cooke had repeatedly said that the $600 million figure used during the capital finance presentation was a hypothetical figure.
During a break, Commissioners Chairman Joe Bryan seemed to be amenable to that $8 million figure.
“It’s reasonable to say that, based on growth in the revenue base, that they might get in the range of $6 million to $10 million,” Bryan said.
With several Republican commissioners pointing to how the school system has $32.1 million in its undesignated fund balance, we'll see the school board gets that $6 million to $10 million increase and whether the school board is satisfied.
Wake is in the position because the economy is picking up.
Deputy County Manager Johnna Rogers said it's the first time in three, four years she's been able to talk about a significantly improving revenue picture. She said the $966 million they're projected to collect puts them close to 2009 levels. This is the first year in awhile that county departments haven't been asked to present cuts.
Even though revenues are projected to be $27.9 million more than the approved budget last year, county staff said the number to focus on is that they're expecting to have $18.4 million more to spend. The other money is committed for things like paying the debt service.
The number isn't likely to rise as it's doubtful that the GOP majority on the commissioners will approve a property tax increase for this year. Leaving the tax rate unchanged is one of the items on the draft 2013 goals.
So that means the school system, Wake Tech and the county agencies are fighting for their share of the $18.4 million.
The county departments are requesting a net increase of $15.4 million in expenditures both for new items and to make up for the cuts in the last few years.