by Paige Terryberry
Senior Analyst for Fiscal Policy, John Locke Foundation
It’s budget season for North Carolina’s local governments, and some officials are taking the opportunity to propose tax increases yet again.
For those in Wake County, this should bring a sense of déjà vu.
This week Wake County Manager David Ellis proposed increasing property taxes to generate an additional $29.2 million for the General Fund for Fiscal Year 2023. The property tax rate for Wake County would be 61.5 cents for every $100 of property value with the new increase.
Why are they proposing a new tax hike now?
In a tale as old as time, the County has problems – and more of your money can fix them.
A presentation of the budget proposal read: “That need for more is putting pressure on our services and the county employees who deliver them.” Increasing pay is a must, the presentation claimed.
The County Manager says the county is affected by inflation and recommends increasing the budget “to help offset inflation.”
But a tight labor market and inflation affect all businesses. Inflation is causing working families in Wake County to tighten their belts or alter their consumption habits.
But the government won’t be doing that.
Yes, governments’ costs will rise with inflation too. Maintaining the more than 5 million square feet of buildings in the County portfolio will be more expensive.
But rather than prioritize their budget as all working families do when faced with inflationary pressures, the County is proposing a larger government at the taxpayer’s expense.
These spending projects are not necessarily harmful on their own. But they beg the question: why will Wake County taxpayers foot the bill and face another tax hike?
The County Manager proposes spending on:
To the last point, Wake County School leaders are unsatisfied with that hefty increase and are requesting nearly $18 million more which would require an even higher tax increase, according to The News & Observer.
The school funding requests come despite them still sitting on a quarter of a billion in unspent federal Covid dollars.
Why employ financial responsibility when you can bill taxpayers?