Durham County finds extra money for schools

CorrespondentJune 19, 2013 

Ellen Reckhow

DURHAM COUNTY

— The Durham County Board of Commissioners will add extra money for the schools without raising taxes beyond the county manager’s recommended increase.

In a budget work session last week, the commissioners reached a consensus to increase funding for the Durham Public Schools by $2.4 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year budget.

“We were able to not (further) raise taxes by making some cuts and finding some additional revenue and taking a little more out of our fund balance,” Commissioner Ellen Reckhow said Wednesday.

The proposed county budget now includes $119.4 million in county funding for the school system, up from $117 million in the 2012-13 budget.

The additional $2.4 million falls short of the $4.8 million increase the school board sought but matches what Durham Public Schools Superintendent Eric J. Becoats had asked for in his proposed budget in April.

“I think our board felt that this demonstrated we were following a pathway,” County Manager Mike Ruffin said.

Ruffin had originally recommended against any increase in the county’s public school funding over last year, instead offering $2.4 million from the county’s fund balance as a “backstop” in case the school district needed to boost its fund balance. The fund balance is an account used to manage cash flow and pay for unforeseen expenses during the year.

The proposed budget has a 4 percent property tax increase. It raises the county property tax rate three cents to 77.44 cents per $100 valuation. The county tax bill on a $250,000 house would be $1,936, a $75 increase.

Ruffin has said he also plans a 2 cent property tax rate increase for fiscal year 2014-15.

The commissioners are scheduled to adopt the 2013-14 budget on Monday. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Durham County Government Administrative Complex, second floor, Commissioners’ Meeting Room, 200 E. Main St.

Staff writer Mark Schultz contributed to this story.

Goad: 919-536-8549

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