BURGAW, NC (WECT) - Commissioners in Pender County approved a budget that includes a tax increase of more than 17 cents per $100 of property, brought on by circumstances that one Commissioner called "a perfect storm."
The 2015-2016 budget proposal, which passed by a 3-2 vote in Tuesday afternoon's special meeting, takes the property tax to 68.5 cents, from the current 51.2 rate. It means a taxpayer with a $200,000 house will be paying about $340 dollars more in property taxes.
"I never anticipated we would have to raise taxes by this much," said Commissioners' Vice-Chairman George Brown, who along with David Williams and Fred McKoy voted to approve the budget proposal.
Commissioners David Piepmeyer and Demetrice Keith opposed it.
Brown says the county needs the revenue to pay debt service on the school bonds approved by voters in November, and to afford projects like the sewer plant and industrial park upgrades. Brown says those needs, and not implementing an anticipated 3.5 cent property tax hike in the 2009-2010 fiscal year because of the economic downturn, helped bring about the current financial situation.
Brown said it is the first property tax increase in the county since he joined the board in 2006.
"It costs a lot to prepare for the future," Brown said when talking about the current projects and the school bonds. "[The tax increase] is going to hurt me, it is going to hurt everyone. The upside is, I'd prefer to have an increase for the reasons we have, than for the reasons other counties are having to raise taxes."
According to Brown, the budget proposal does include a cost of living increase for county employees, but those workers will no longer have their dental and vision coverage paid by the county. It will be a voluntary program. Employees will also have higher deductibles in their health insurance coverage.
To see the specifics of the budget proposal click here: http://bit.ly/1BzEc4a