City Council Approves 0.6 Cent Property Tax Rate Increase
During the June 21 City Council meeting, the City of Durham FY2022-2023 budget was approved and contains a little more than a half-cent property tax rate increase to help support the restoration of merit-based employee compensation as well as public safety and shared prosperity initiatives.
The total approved budget is $570.4 million, which is a 7.7% increase from last year’s adopted budget, primarily due to increases in the General Fund, Water and Sewer and Stormwater Funds for infrastructure improvements, and the Debt Service Fund to provide for capital infrastructure.
- Proposed Tax Rate Increase: Effective July 1, 2022, the City’s new property tax rate will be 55.77 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is a 0.6 cent tax rate increase from the previous fiscal year’s rate of 55.17 cents. The tax rate will generate a City property tax bill of about $1,311 per year, or about $109 per month, on a house valued at the median house value of $235,133 according to the Durham County Office of Tax Administration.
- City Employee Compensation: The additional funds generated by the tax rate increase will be used to help provide general employees with a 3% market-rate salary increase as well as restoration of the City’s pay-for-performance merit system for all employees, both general and sworn. Police and Fire sworn employees received market-rate salary increases, on average, of 15% and 14.7%, respectively, in January 2022. For the past two years, merit-based salary increases have been suspended for all employees due to the continued financial uncertainty related to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
- Community Safety: Funding is included to begin implementation of new pilot programs in the Community Safety Department, specifically the Crisis Call Diversion, Co-Response, Care Navigation, and Community Response Team pilots. Funding is also included to continue the Durham Expunction and Restoration (DEAR) Program as well as a one-year pilot of the ShotSpotter technology.
- Support for Long-Time Homeowners: The approved budget also includes $500,000 to support the Durham County Long-Time Homeowner Grant Program for residents at or below 80% of the area median income. This program awards grants to qualifying recipients to help reduce the amount of their property taxes due.
- Digital Inclusion: Funding is included for a new Digital Inclusion Program Manager to begin working with community partners on programs to ensure all city residents have access to the internet and understand how to use this technology in areas such as education, health care, and employment opportunities.
- Youth Career & Business Support Programs: Funding is also included to support paid summer youth career exploration, pathway discovery, and ready-to-work programs; local businesses through the Momentum 360 Financial Academy Training Program, which provides coaching, mentoring and training for businesses in recovery from the impact of COVID-19 shutdowns; and Hispanic Ecosystem and Outreach Program aimed at developing a marketing, outreach, and technical assistance program that specifically targets Hispanic entrepreneurs; and continuing the Durham Legacy Business Program which helps to retain, expand, and transition Durham's long-standing small, women- and minority-owned businesses with succession planning and targeted technical assistance.
- Fare-Free Bus Service: Federal funds will continue to be allocated to provide fare-free service for all GoDurham riders in the coming fiscal year.
- Street Maintenance: Since street paving and maintenance continues to be a significant concern for residents responding to the 2021 Resident Satisfaction Survey, the approved budget maintains funding for street paving at $10 million.
- Water System Upgrades: The City will also invest $102.2 million for water system rehabilitation, upgrading and increasing the City’s future water supply through Jordan Lake and Teer Quarry projects as well as Lake Michie and Little River construction needs. A modest increase of about 3.9% in water and sewer rates as well as a stormwater rate increase of 0.93 cents per month are also included in the approved budget.