No property tax hike in Wake County's $1.56B budget proposal

The proposal leaves the property tax rate at 60 cents per every $100 of property value.

Video Transcript

ANDREA BLANFORD: Wake County commissioners are now poring over a proposed $1.5 billion budget for this year that calls for more spending without raising your property taxes. The county manager says it's possible thanks to a pleasant surprise in the midst of the pandemic. Unveiling his $1.5 billion budget proposal to Wake County commissioners.

DAVID ELLIS: I'm happy to say it's better than we thought it might be a year ago.

ANDREA BLANFORD: Wake County Manager David Ellis is optimistic. The third fastest growing county in the nation gets nearly all of its cash flow, 93% of revenue from property tax, sales tax, and service fees.

DAVID ELLIS: The only data that the budget team had to base their revenue projections on was the Great Recession.

ANDREA BLANFORD: Writing a budget in the midst of pandemic, Ellis says his team expected Wake's red-hot housing market to cool homeowners with delay projects, reducing the need for inspections and permits. And people would save, not spend their money.

DAVID ELLIS: So you can see why we wanted to be prepared for the worst. The good news is the worst didn't happen.

ANDREA BLANFORD: No, it didn't. Instead, Ellis says home sales climbing along with demand for inspections and permits and people spending through online and curbside shopping are making for a quick economic rebound, which means bringing back what was cut in those early pandemic days.

DAVID ELLIS: One of the areas that we're really focusing on is public safety.

ANDREA BLANFORD: 10% of the budget going toward things like two new ambulances and eight EMTs. To run them, 16 new positions for the Wake County Sheriff's Office. $1.6 million to prepare for the next public health disease outbreak. And that $1.5 million for affordable housing cut in last year's budget now back in. Ellis says it's all needed now. Wake County's unemployment rate still hovering at 5%, double what it was pre-pandemic and federal funding won't last forever.

DAVID ELLIS: This might be the last round of stimulus checks. And so we want to be cautious going forward and not assume that all this spending will continue.

ANDREA BLANFORD: And Wake County residents, you can give your feedback on the proposed budget online any time between now and May 18th. The budget will go up for a vote June 7th.