Are you OK with giving more money to Chatham Commissioners to spend as they see fit?

By Raymond Gastwaite

Pittsboro, NC – Most of us have heard that our county commissioners are increasing property taxes in Chatham County. Do you know how your money is being spent? Chatham County tax information is posted on the county’s website – in 17 separate, difficult to read documents.

Here is a summary that I have compiled after reading through those documents.

Chatham Property Tax IncreaseProperty taxes are going up 5.5%, by 1.19 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to a total of 63.38 cents per $100. That is top of an estimated 3.7% increase in your property values. Together those give the County $62.29 million dollars of property taxes to spend. And property taxes account for 58% of total county revenue. Total general fund expenditures are going up 7% from this year to next year, up to $107,430,261.

As an example, if you have a $250,000 piece of property, its value will now increase to $259,250. Taxes would have been $1,554.75. Now expect taxes of $1,643.13, an increase of $88.38. Think you own your property? Try not paying your county property taxes and see how long you keep it (but that is a post for another time).

Where do our Commissioners plan to spend that $107 million?

County schools take up the largest portion of the budget, and will get a $1.5 million increase over last year for 3 more reading specialists, 5 teachers, and 10.5 teaching assistants, along with $700,000 in staff raises..

Next, staffing for the county will increase by 2.5 in social services, plus 5 more detention officers, an admin assistant for central permits, and one-half of a nutritionist. Staff will receive a 4% increase in salaries. Total county full-time equivalent staff increases from 477 to 507, which is $39,155,539 in salaries and benefits. The largest department is the Sheriff’s office, with 160 full-time equivalent staff.

Health insurance (how is that Obamacare working for cost control?) is going up 15%, or $650,000.

Increases in social services include a new affordable housing commission, converting the Henry Siler School to low income housing, and addressing substandard housing.

Individual county department increases are

  •   Central permitting – up 22%
  •   Inspections – up 16%
  •   Schools – up 5%
  •   County attorney – up 38%
  •   Economic development – up 46%
  •   Emergency operations – up 20%
  •   Human services agencies – up 53%
  •   General services (I’m not sure what all this includes) – up 47%, to $12,400,000.

    Our fire districts also want more money.

  •   Goldston from 8 cents to 9 cents per $100.
  •   Northview from 8.3 cents to 8.6 cents per $100.
  •   Bennett from 8 cents to 9 cents.

    And we are buying capital improvements.

  •   $236,500 for bike lanes (can someone post where these will be?)
  •   $6,200,000 for the new Health Services building at CCCC (the first year of two years cost)
  •   $6,400,000 for a new high school (first year of of three years cost)

    The three biggest areas of expense are

  •   Schools, at $36,800,000
  •   General services, at $12.5 million
  •   Social services, at $10.8 million

So, are you satisfied with giving more money to the Commissioners to spend as they see fit? If so, that’s great, as they certainly are spending more of our money. If not, well, November is coming. Either way, go vote.

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