Durham County

Durham city manager proposes 1.79-cent tax-rate increase

City of Durham

City taxpayers would see a 1.79-cent increase in their tax rate under City Manager Tom Bonfield’s proposed 2017-18 budget that includes enhanced strategies for affordable housing, public safety and youth engagement.

“Principally that is for the need and the commitment to do more with affordable housing,” Bonfield said. “As well as on the public safety side.”

The proposed $429.4 million budget is a 6.1 percent increase from the current year and would be the largest budget in the city’s history.

The budget proposes a tax rate of 57.86 cents per $100 valuation, which is 1.79 cents above the current rate of 56.07 cents per $100 valuation

The budget would result in a $1,041 tax bill on a house valued at $180,000, the median value of a house in the city. The average homeowner will pay $32 more a year.

The bulk of the increase is to address affordable housing, which was stressed as an urgent need from Durham residents at public meetings, Bonfield said.

The proposed budget adds a penny to the dedicated affordable housing fund, raising the tax-rate allocation from 1 cent to 2 cents. The increase will add $2.79 million to the fund and result in about $8 million going to affordable housing programs each year.

The budget also calls for eliminating daily admission fees for youth 18 and under to all of the city’s recreation centers and pools. It also calls for increasing teen programs and marketing at four of the six centers.

The budget also adds 53 new city positions, including 30 new firefighters to staff a new fire station in southeast Durham.

The street resurfacing fund will receive a $2.6 million boost above the current $4 million included in recurring paving expenditures, Bonfield said.

The change more than doubles the funding for paving and street maintenance to $6.6 million, which addresses one of the top concerns expressed by residents in a recent survey.

A public hearing is scheduled for the proposed budget at the City Council’s June 5 meeting. The final budget will be voted on at the council’s June 19 meeting.

Check back at www.heraldsun.com Tuesday morning for a more in-depth look at the city’s budget.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges