Raleigh City Budget Raises Taxes for 3rd Straight Year, Gives All Employees Raise

Residents would pay more in taxes and fees and city workers would get raises under a proposed spending plan for Raleigh.

City Manager Ruffin Hall is proposing a $918.9 million budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 – a spending increase of $59.9 million from this year. He suggests raising the property tax rate by 0.7 cents to bring the tax rate to 42.5 cents per $100 in valuation.

Hall said the spending boost will go toward a range of needs and that his budget plan is part of a broad effort to make the city government more attractive to current and potential employees. A recent study found that the city’s wages are behind local and national competitors, he said.

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Public safety workers would get the biggest pay increases.

The budget plan comes two months after Hall announced a mid-year pay adjustment for many employees, including those in public safety. It comes a year after some police officers and firefighters picketed outside City Hall, demanding big raises.

“Everyone will get something,” Hall said of the city’s 4,000 employees.

Hall’s proposal would make Raleigh a “regional leader” in starting pay for police and firefighters, he said. Entry-level police officers would make $42,300 a year and entry-level firefighters would make $39,200 a year – higher than any other Wake County municipality.

“This is a significant financial investment in our first responders that we expect will reduce police turnover rates and ensure our police and fire departments recruit and retain highly qualified individuals,” Hall wrote in his budget message.

If the City Council approves Hall’s plan next month, it would mark the third year in a row that Raleigh leaders raise the property tax rate.

The council, a nonpartisan body mostly occupied by Democrats, last year approved a 2 cent boost to the property tax rate. The increase generated $11.4 million in additional revenue, which the council split between paying for Dix Park and funding more affordable housing.

In 2015, the council raised property taxes by 1.72 cents to fund debt for parks.

Under Hall’s plan, residents with homes valued at $195,000 – the median Raleigh home value – would pay an extra $42.48 next year in taxes and fees.

About $13.68 of that amount would come from the new property tax rate, while $28.80 (about $3.54 a month) would come from an increase in utility and trash-collection fees. All residents would pay an extra $1.65 a month in utilities and an extra 75 cents a month for trash pickup.

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