Durham County

City budget to raise taxes for Durham property owners

City of Durham

Durham property owners will see a 3.2 percent increase in their city property taxes after the City Council approved the budget for the new fiscal year that starts July 1.

The property tax rate will rise 1.79 cents to 57.86 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The increase will generate a city tax bill of $1,041 on a $180,000 house, the median house value for the city. The average homeowner will pay $32 more a year.

The City Council unanimously approved the $429.4 million 2017-18 budget Monday. It marks a 6.1 percent increase from the current year and is the largest budget in the city’s history.

“We have a terrific budget this year,” City Councilman Steve Schewel said. “I think it is one that we can be proud of and moves the city forward in so many ways.”

County commissioners plan to vote next week on a proposed 2.75-cent increase to the countywide tax rate.

The combined city and county property tax bill would be $2,422.62, which is $80.64 more than the current year on a home valued at $180,000.

Here are some budget highlights:

▪ The budget dedicates an extra penny of the tax rate to a housing fund, doubling how much the city will put toward affordable housing. Each penny will raise about $2.75 million. Another $3 million for affordable housing will come from federal sources.

▪ The street resurfacing fund will receive a $2.6 million boost above the current $4 million. The change will more than double funding for paving and street maintenance to $6.6 million, addressing one of residents’ top concerns in a recent survey.

▪ The budget eliminated admission fees for those under 18 at all of the city’s recreation centers and pools starting June 1. The change, which costs $41,800, addressed longstanding concerns about opportunities for youth as well as whether recreation centers are being fully used.

▪ The budget adds 53 positions, including 30 new firefighters to staff a new fire station in southeast Durham. City employees will receive on average a 4 percent performance increase, 5 percent for public safety workers.

▪ The city is also changing its personnel policy to allow 12 weeks of paid parental leave starting July 1. The city and Durham County, which also offers a 12-week leave allowance, appears to be one of the most generous policies across the South, according to a National Partnership for Women & Families report.

▪ Rates for monthly users of city garages will increase from $65 a month to $85. Monthly surface parking lot fees will increase from $55 a month to $70.

▪ Water and sewer fees will rise an average 2.6 percent.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges