After initially presenting a budget that included a 5-cent property tax increase, New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet presented commissioners with a budget that included a 2-cent tax hike during a work session on Thursday.
But lowering the anticipated tax increase meant the county would have to find more than $4 million in cuts that the additional 3 cents would have funded. Those programs slated for cuts, according to Coudriet, include New Hanover County Schools, which would receive $1.08 million less than originally allocated, Cape Fear Community College, which was tapped for a $550,000 cut, and the Juvenile Justice program, which now faces a $150,000 reduction.
More than $2.1 million in debt service payments were cut from the proposed budget, as well as a $225,000 cut for child care subsidies for 100 children.
Coudriet said he initially recommended the 5-cent increase because beginning July 1–the start of the fiscal year–the county must pay debt obligations for voter-approved schools and parks bond referendums from 2006 and 2008. A 5-cent increase would equal $15 million in debt repayment, Coudriet said.
The 2-cent increase will now place property tax at 57.4 cents per $100 of property valuation.
“If you own a home that’s worth $200,000, then the new increase will cost the tax payers about $39 extra per year,” Commissioner Rob Zapple said.
Even with the new 2-cent property tax increase, the recommended general fund budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year is $302,415,630, a decrease of $118,344 from the current fiscal year.
County commissioners are still working to prepare the final proposed budget. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 4 p.m. June 8. For more information on the New Hanover County budget, click here to visit the county commissioners’ budget page.