New Hanover County Commissioners approve half-cent tax cut

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Commissioners approved the budget for the fiscal year 2023-24 on Monday evening.

The $588 million budget includes a half-cent tax cut for county residents. Currently, the tax rate is 45.5 cents per $100. For fiscal year 2023-24, it will be 45 cents.

Commissioners voted four to one in favor of the amended budget that included the tax reduction. Vice Chair LeAnn Pierce voted no after saying she wanted to see an even bigger cut.

“I know that we have certain things that we have to provide for in our budget but we’re looking at the rising cost of food and gas, people’s homes and mortgage rates and insurance,” Pierce said. “I feel like to give $5 million back to the taxpayers out of $590 million was putting money back in their pockets and their households. I was really pushing for that one-cent cut.”

The approved tax cut did mean a more than $2 million chop from the budget as it was originally proposed. As Pierce alluded to in her remarks, it would have taken $5 million in cuts to reduce the tax rate by one cent.

Commissioner Jonathan Barfield responded to Pierce’s concerns saying he hasn’t received calls concerning the tax rate.

“I’ve had folks calling and saying that we want services. We want pickleball courts. We want teacher’s pay to be increased, we want to make sure our teacher assistants are getting the right pay,” Barfield said. “We want to make sure county employees are covered. We want to make sure that our parks are adequately staffed. Those are the questions that I get.”

As a part of the $2 million, a $500,00 reduction in New Hanover County Schools’ capital funds allocation. Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust says despite that cut, this budget is a win for the schools.

More than $128 million of the $588 million budget is set aside for public schools. This meets the school system at their ADM (per-student) request and also funds over $10 million for school capital needs, which is $6 million over the previous year and will fund a significant amount of the school’s request with the remaining needs funded in subsequent years as their capacity to do the projects allows.

In addition to academic improvements, Foust says the approved budget will allow for the creation of an eSports program and support a security upgrade in the schools.

“We have met with individuals and are continuing to meet. Some of those things we will not be sharing out in public but just know that we do have the funding now to go forward and move forward for more security measures for our students,” Foust said.

The line items impacted by the tax cut are as follows.

  • NHCS Capital $500,000
  • CFCC Operating Funds $500,000
  • Technical Certifications Program $762,109
  • Administrative Reserve $200,000
  • Salary Lag Adjustment $500,000
  • Social Worker, Senior $45,357
  • Museum Park Shade Structure $100,000

The final approved budget will be published in the coming weeks. To read more on the proposed budget, visit here.

The budget will go into effect on July 1.

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