Durham County Manager Wendell Davis’s proposed budget
includes a 1.9 cent property tax increase, additional funding for education and new positions in the Sheriff’s Office.
Davis presented his $644 million proposal to the Board of Commissioners Monday night. They're slated to approve the spending plan on June 25, after a June 11 public hearing.
If approved, the tax increase would come on the heels of a 2.75-cent property tax rate increase approved last June for the current year’s budget. This increase would bring the county property tax rate up from 76.79 cents per hundred dollars of property, to 78.69 cents. For a house valued at $200,000, that amounts to an annual property tax bill increase of $38. For residents who also live within city limits, that's in addition to city taxes, which are currently set at 57.86 cents per $100 of property.
Twenty new positions are being recommended at the Sheriff's Office, include thirteen positions to staff a mental health pod for women at the Durham County Detention Facility (a mental health pod for men opened in the Fall). Existing employees will be trained to fill those spots, and the newly hired employees will take over their positions. Two officers would also be hired to work on domestic violence cases.
Overall, the budget is about 1.8 percent larger than the current year's spending plan. Education funding, which also includes a 5 percent increase for Durham Tech Community College, amounts to about a third of the budget’s general fund expenditures.
Durham Public Schools are the "single largest expense for Durham County," Davis told the board.
The budget includes $137 million for Durham Public Schools, an increase of about $3 million from the current year but shy of the additional $5 million in funding the school system had requested
. The proposal would increase per pupil spending from $3,312 to $3,400.
The budget also proposes three new school nurse positions and five new school resource officers to replace five positions that the city will no longer fund, along with body cameras for all twenty-seven SRO positions.
In addition to $1.5 million to support pre-K classrooms at the Whitted School, the budget would put $3.7 million toward expanding pre-K with the goal of universal access for all Durham residents. Davis said he hopes private and philanthropic organizations will see that funding as a "challenge grant" and match it.
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