Because of revaluation, flat tax would cost equivalent of 11-cent hike over previous year; most of new revenue slated for new school construction, operating costs and jail project
By Eric C. Deines
CONCORD — Despite the last-minute addition of $2.6 million in revenue from the county-wide revaluation, a flat tax rate has been proposed for the Cabarrus County Fiscal Year 2008-2009 Budget.
The proposed $213.2 million FY 2008-09 budget is a 7.3 percent increase over the 2007-08 amended budget of $198.8 million. General fund expenditures — which account for areas like school construction debt and public safety — for 08-09 would be $206 million, a 6.66 percent increase over the previous year’s budget of $193.1 million.
With the revaluation increasing property values by an average of about 20 percent, the proposed flat tax rate of 63 cents per $100 valuation would be equal to an 11-cent tax increase for average taxpayers.
This means that residents with property valued at $125,000 would pay an annual property tax of $788.
A revenue-neutral tax rate would be 52 cents.
The total revenue from the revaluation was $22.7 million, with more than three-quarters of that money going to new school construction, increased school operating costs and a new jail construction — a total of $17.26 million.
The recent addition of $2.6 million to the revaluation revenue — equal to just over 1 cent on the county’s tax rate — is the result of appeal negotiations, and will be used for additions at Furr and Boger elementary schools.
In FY 2008-09, education funding consumes about 40 percent of the county’s budget, or $85.3 million.
Over the next four years, the 63-cent property tax is proposed to increase to 75 cents per $100 valuation. The first increase of 4 cents would come in the 2009-10 fiscal year.
“This all has to do with the scheduling of debt,” said County Manager John Day.
Based on projects recommended by a school construction “blue ribbon” committee, Day has proposed a plan that funds several of those projects while issuing about $319.2 million in debt for school construction projects.
The blue ribbon committee recommendation would have led to about $424.7 million in issued debt for school projects.
Commissioners discussed the plan with school officials at a budget workshop Thursday.
Because two Cabarrus County Schools middle schools are seeing heavy overcrowding, Day suggested that one $36 million middle school project could be bumped up to 2009 from 2011. However, he said the move would require delaying construction on a $60 million 480-bed jail housing unit until 2011.
“It doesn’t really change anything (financially),” Day said to commissioners. “The idea is: Where do you want your overcrowding, in jails or schools?”
Commission Chairman Jay White asked that county staff put together figures as to the construction trade-off between the middle school and the jail.
“I appreciate they would consider that tonight,” said Cabarrus County Schools Superintendent Barry Shepherd after the meeting. “Obviously, we’re going to have some overcrowding issues at our middle schools if we don’t do something.”
• Contact Eric C. Deines: 704-789-9141
Staff writer Justin Vick contributed to this story.