The annual fiscal wrangle between Wake County's governing bodies ground to a halt Monday as the Board of Commissioners approved a $1.26 billion budget on a 5–2 vote, bumping up the schools' allocation by $5 million over the county manager's recommendation to provide $430.9 million in local funding.
Commissioner Matt Calabria, who moved to include the extra $5 million, acknowledged that Wake County schools will still lag beyond many other counties in the state even with the increase.
Use of a recent $1.5 million rise in sales tax revenues and transfers from debt service and capital funds meant that the property tax increase needed to fund the budget could remain at 1.45 cents per $100 in assessed value. That was the rate recommended by county manager Jim Hartmann in his budget proposal. While receiving less than the school board's request for a $45 million increase, Wake schools will get $21 million in new funding.
"We certainly have a long way to go," Calabria said. "We have done a great deal, but we have a lot of catching up to do."
Commissioners Greg Ford and Jessica Holmes voted against the budget as insufficient to meet the growing school system's needs. Ford referred to Calabria's funding mechanisms as "sleight of hand."
"I cannot support this budget because it doesn't go far enough to support education," Holmes said.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Sleights of Hand"