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Politics

Local Governments Brainstorm Their Budgets, With Taxes In Mind

Durham City Hall
City of Durham
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County commissioners and city council members across the state turn their attention to their local budgets this week. 

Many local governments are avoiding increases on property taxes as they craft their budgets for the next fiscal year.  But they're also expecting less direct funding from the state and increasing some fees for services like solid waste or animal control. 

Budget projections from counties and cities in the Triangle and Triad show more revenue from property and sales taxes as residents spend more.  But Todd McGee of the state Association of County Commissioners says those numbers are still not back to pre-Recession levels.

"The real estate market in a lot of areas seems to be starting to show some positive momentum and property values are the biggest source of revenue for counties.  Nothing is ever going to get fully back to the way it was before until everybody gets comfortable that investments in real estate are a good business decision," McGee says.

Durham hosted an online town hall meeting to discuss the city budget while Wake County held two public meetings Monday.

McGee says questions also remain about how the General Assembly might overhaul the state's tax code.

“What is the General Assembly going to do with tax reform and how would that impact county governments?” says McGee.

“There's been a lot of different plans that are being discussed, and some would appear to have a more direct impact on county revenues than others would be, so I think that's kind of a big unknown right now."

Local budget proposals in the Triangle and Triad are projecting slightly less direct funding from the state.  Councils and commissions will finalize their budgets this month before the next fiscal year starts July first.

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