New Hanover County officials are set to hold a public hearing today regarding the next fiscal year’s proposed budget
, which includes a property tax rate of 47.5 cents per $100 valuation, compared to last year’s 55.5-cent rate.
Despite the lower tax rate, some property owners will have higher tax bills because of a recent revaluation that resulted in an average increase of more than 30%.
Tax Administrator Allison Snell said the county received 5,013 appeals of the revaluations, and county officials are in the process of working through those appeals.
Still, the 47.5-cent rate that’s been proposed in the recommended budget would be “one of the lowest tax rates that we’ve ever had in the county’s history,” said Julia Olson-Boseman, chairwoman of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, on Monday.
She added, “New Hanover County is a wealthy county, and the citizens should have the best of everything,” including teachers and care for seniors.
Boseman has been one of the proponents
of additional funding included for schools in the proposed budget.
The total recommended direct funding for public schools is $91.9 million, which consists of a $9,000 average teacher supplement, an increase of $4,817 over the current average supplement of $4,183, according to the proposed budget.
“The supplement increase takes the district from ranking 27th to No. 1 in the state, based on current fiscal year data,” County Manager Chris Coudriet stated in his recommended budget.
But with nearly $12 billion added to the county tax base over the past year, equating to an annual growth rate of 33%, why not use the revenue-neutral rate of 42.5 cents?
For one thing, the cost of operating the government, along with everything from gas to lumber, has gone up, said County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield.
“You still have to bring in money to make government work,” Barfield said. “There’s so many people who come here that expect a certain level of service.”
And "revenue-neutral," said County Commissioner Deb Hays, does not mean an owner's property tax bill won’t go up at all.
“Even at revenue-neutral, there could still be a tax increase for certain people depending upon your newly assessed value,” Hays said.
Talking about the budget specifics, Hays said she sees the education funding increase as an important investment in students, teachers and schools. But she also wants the board to look at other options for funding the increase.
“I believe we can do that without burdening our property owners,” Hays said.
The fiscal year ends June 30, and the commissioners are expected to vote on the budget by their June 22 meeting at the latest, Hays said.
Today’s New Hanover County Board of Commissioners meeting starts at 4 p.m. at the New Hanover County Historic Courthouse, 24 N. Third St.