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N&O editorial applauds Wake County’s willingness to pay more for public education

In recent years, local governments have been increasingly called upon to fund the operational needs of their public schools. And Wake County, North Carolina’s largest public school system, is no exception.

As The News & Observer‘s reported in recent weeks, Wake County residents are being asked to take on an additional 1.45 cents of property taxes to fund, among other things, the county’s rapid growth.

However, the county’s budget, as proposed by County Manager Jim Hartmann, stops short of fully funding the school system’s request for more than $45 million in new funds.

The proposal brought a response from some this week who urged county leaders to raise their taxes further to pay for public schools’ needs. 

On Tuesday, The News & Observer‘s editorial board applauded the push from Wake residents.

From the editorial:

Sometimes, you gotta love cantankerous, surprising Wake County.

Time was, a proposed property tax increase would have gotten an utterly predictable response: naysayers crowding a county commissioners’ meeting to protest and stopping just short of bringing the tar and feathers with them.

But this week, after County Manager Jim Hartmann’s proposed budget came out with a modest property tax hike of 1.45 cents per $100 valuation, public meetings to offer folks the chance to comment brought out a number of citizens eager to have their say – in favor of the property tax hike.

In fact, some wanted the property tax increase to be more, in order to do more for education.

Said Anne Cooper of Raleigh: “I’m here to ask you to raise my taxes.”

Others said they didn’t want schools to have to go into their reserve funding and that the county ought to come up with more money to fully answer the schools’ stated needs.

We assume there were smelling salts at the commissioners’ table, but there were no reports anyone had to use them.

Wake is a county where the schools are valued and always have been. Now, the county has the largest system in the state, and traditional public education – even with more charters, private schools and home schools – continues to be the choice for the vast majority of families. Residents aren’t unanimous, of course, in their views on the tax hike, but the positive response is encouraging.

 

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