Four-cent property tax increase approved in Chatham County budget

Pittsboro, NC – On June 17, 2024, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the County budget for fiscal year 2024-25. The budget of $278.0 million prioritizes support for education and public safety while also focusing on growth. Due to significant financial pressures in these areas, the budget calls for a four-cent ($0.04) property tax increase which would adjust the tax rate to 72.5 cents per $100 of property valuation.

The FY25 budget includes some revisions that staff made at the request of the Board:

  • Fund $66.5 million for Chatham County Schools.
  • Provide an increase of $2,000 for supplement funding for all Chatham County Schools certified staff. (This is an additional $800 over the $1,200 that was included in the recommended budget.)
  • Fund $24.3 million for the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Decrease the number of additional deputies in the Sheriff’s Office from the 8 positions in the recommended Manager’s budget to 6.
  • Four positions would be funded for the full fiscal year, and 2 would be funded for half of the fiscal year.
  • Implement a property tax relief program for low-income homeowners.
  • Staff will work to develop program specifics and provide options to the Board of Commissioners at a future meeting.
  • Provide additional funding for the Human Services Nonprofit agencies that the County funds.
  • The additional funds will be used to increase programs that were under 75% funding to that threshold, or as close as possible.
  • Decrease the funding in the Transfer to Capital Reserve account.
  • This reduction reduces the transfer for the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center Phase II project by 50% for FY25.
  • Increase the salary of the Board of Commissioners Chair by an additional $4,000.

“The County continues to prioritize support for education and public safety,” said Mike Dasher, Chair, Chatham County Board of Commissioners. “Increasing taxes is not something the Board takes lightly, but after much thought and discussion, we concluded that our ability to sustain and grow our talented workforce, especially in our schools, will be essential to meet the needs of our growing community.”

“I am confident that this budget will enable us to address current challenges, seize opportunities for growth and innovation, and continue building a stronger, more resilient Chatham County,” said Chatham County Manager Dan LaMontagne. 

New and Increased County Fees
There are several new fees and increases to current fees in the FY25 budget which include:

  • Chatham County Water Utilities will implement a 15% usage rate increase which is needed for the enterprise fund to remain financially solvent and to address recent financial pressures (a result of increased cost of materials, equipment, and labor). The water usage rate has not increased since 2007.
  • Utilities is also increasing the Utilities System Development Fee (SDF) in order to address the cost of materials, equipment, and labor required to expand the County water system. The SDF for a new traditional single-family residential dwelling will increase from $3,431 to $5,000.
  • Chatham County Permitting and Inspections will implement significant changes to the fee structure for both residential and commercial permits to increase equity and consistency of fee charges and to account for increasing cost of service provision.
  • Fire Inspections will also implement significant changes to its fee structure to increase equity. Adjusted fees are based on the size and type of structure being inspected.

Fire District Tax Rates
The Silk Hope Fire Department, which provides service for the Hope district, will receive a 1.5 cent increase. The increase will bring their tax rate to 9.75 cents. This increase will be used to fund the capital costs of a new building/substation. The Northview district will receive a 0.4 cent increase. The increase will bring their tax rate to 9 cents. This increase will be used to fund increased staffing.

County Staff Pay

The FY25 budget also includes a 4% increase in pay for County staff. “While many expenses are necessary to continue movement toward our goals, competitive salaries are essential to attracting and retaining our greatest asset, talented professional staff,” added LaMontagne.

Community members can view the approved FY25 budget on the County website. The budget is also available for inspection at the County Manager’s Office.