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Wake schools, Wake Tech and parks would get funding if voters back 3 bonds this fall

The worksite at the new Oakview Elementary School is full of activity as construction continues on Dec. 8, 2015 in Holly Springs, N.C. A new Wake County school construction bond referendum is expected to be placed on the November 2018 ballot.
The worksite at the new Oakview Elementary School is full of activity as construction continues on Dec. 8, 2015 in Holly Springs, N.C. A new Wake County school construction bond referendum is expected to be placed on the November 2018 ballot. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Wake County leaders agreed Monday to put three items on the ballot this fall to help fund public education and recreation.

If all three of the bonds are approved by voters, the county’s property tax rate will rise 3.8 cents. That would be an increase of $114 on the property tax bill of a $300,000 home in Wake County.

Wake commissioners agreed to move forward with putting the three items on the Nov. 6 ballot during their meeting Monday afternoon. The three separate questions voters will consider are:

$548 million for Wake County Public School System construction.

$349.1 million for Wake County Technical Community College construction.

$120 million for open space, recreation and parks.

The current property tax rate is 65.44 cents per $100 valuation after Wake County leaders voted to raise the rate by nearly 4 cents to pay for public education and affordable housing. If all three bond items are approved, the new tax rate would go into effect on July 1, 2019.

The only person to speak during Monday’s public hearing, Virginia Cassidy asked if now was the right time to raise taxes and if a bond was needed for Wake Tech given there was a state-wide bond for community colleges in 2016.

Approving the bonds will be the cheapest way to build schools, which the county is required by state law to do, and will save more than $50 million, said Wake County Commissioner Chairwoman Jessica Holmes.

“It’s important for taxpayers to understand that investing in our schools is also investing in our economy,” Holmes said. “There is a direct and substantial return on investment for every dollar that we put into our school system. We are not only building buildings, but changing the lives of children and also creating jobs in Wake County.”

The $548 million bond for WCPSS would fund the construction needs of the school system for the next two years. It includes $140 million for new schools and $283 for school renovations. The remaining $89 million would go toward technology, infrastructure and property management and $36 million for contingency and management.

According to a rough county staff estimate, about 60 percent of the $120 million for the parks bond would go toward renovating current parks and building new parks while the remaining 40 percent would go toward acquiring open space and toward greenways.

More than $300 million of the bond for Wake Tech would go toward the college’s new Research Triangle Park campus.

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