Durham County

New residents, construction in Durham pays off for city taxpayers

Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield
Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield City of Durham

All those new people and buildings coming to Durham also means that city taxpayers won't have to worry about their property taxes going up next year.

Durham is growing so much that City Manager Tom Bonfield is not seeking a property-tax increase.

"We're growing a lot, and it's generating money," he said Monday night.

The taxable value of property this coming year will grow by $1.2 billion. That's a 4.46 percent increase, twice what the city predicted.

The city also projects $67 million in sales tax in the 2018-19 fiscal year, a 5 percent increase..

All told, the 2018-19 fiscal year budget is proposed to be $510.4 million.

'Shared prosperity'

An estimated 25 people a day, or roughly 10,000 per year, are now moving to Durham, Bonfield said.

The growth brings pluses but at the same time challenges the city to remember its strategic plan, with its emphasis on "shared economic prosperity." The phrase, touted by Mayor Steve Schewel, calls for breaking down barriers so the economic boom benefits all residents, including the city's most vulnerable.

With the city tax rate holding at 57.86 cents per $100 of assessed property value, the city tax bill on a $200,000 home would remain $1,157.20 per year.

City residents also pay additional property tax to the county. Under the county's proposed budget, the owner of the $200,000 house would pay another $1,573.80, bringing the total tax bill to $2,731.

What's in the proposed city budget:

$8.9 million for Hoover Road Athletic Park, which will feature soccer fields.

$2.39 million for the Durham Belt Line trail.

5 percent raises for Durham police officers and firefighters, including the county firefighters who are merging into the city fire department this summer.

$304,000 for administrative costs related to participatory budgeting, which would let residents ages 13 and older vote on projects funded in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

More money for the dedicated housing fund. More tax revenue means $13.3 million more for housing, with $7.4 million of that going toward the city's affordable housing plan.

No increases in bus fare to ride GoDurham buses. Bonfield said the city is still determining the future of the Bull City Connector and routes.

Bertha Johnson, the city's budget director, said the last time the city did not pass a property tax increase was for the 2015-16 fiscal year, when Bill Bell was mayor.

What's next

Residents can tell the Durham City Council what they think of the proposed budget at a public hearing at 7 p.m. June 4, at City Hall. The council will vote on the budget at its June 19 meeting.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563; @dawnbvaughan
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