Union Co. commissioners blame school district for tax hike

by: Tenikka Smith Updated:

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UNION COUNTY, N.C. —

Residents and businesses in Union County will pay more for property taxes after the commission approved a 15.4 percent tax hike.
 
On average homeowners will see about a $200 increase on their bills each year.
 
Commissioners who voted for and against the tax hike told Channel 9 blamed Union County Public Schools for the increase.
 
In a 3-2 vote Union County commissioners approved the budget for fiscal 2015 which includes a 15.4 percent property tax increase.
 
The tax rate jumped from 66 cents to 76.14 cents per $100 of assessed value. 
 
For a $150,000 home, the bill would go from $990 to $1,142 a year, which is a $152 increase.

Mecklenburg County's tax rate is around 82 cents.
 
Homeowner Kelly Hudson was annexed into Stallings from Mecklenburg County a few years ago.
 
"Where does it go?" Hudson said, "I never feel like I see the end results to all these tax hikes."
 
While commissioners were split on the vote to raise taxes, they are placing blame in the same direction --- a Union County Public Schools.
 
The new budget gives the school district nearly $107 million, which consists of $19.5 million in capital contributions and $87.1 million in general operating funds.
 
It is about $6 million more than the district got this past school year.
 
It's also less than what a jury determined was legally necessary to operate the school system for the 2013-14 school year when it had a thousand fewer students.
 
Union County Commission Chair Frank Aikmus said, "For them to say it's not enough, clearly we have a spending problem."
 
Commissioner John Thomas said, "If we can keep spending for Sheriff's Office, Department of Health and Human Services, and all of those other aspects in line with the growth at the lower tax rate, I believe the schools should be held to the same standard."

Aikmus also said people in Union County should keep in mind that school board successfully sued the county for $91 million and that appeal is still making its way through the courts.  Aikmus said if that appeal is not overturned, there will have to be another tax increase next year to pay for it.
 
County commissioners asked the school board for a breakdown of how the money would be spent.  Last week the superintendent responded with a detailed letter of expenses that include roofing repairs and renovations at schools. It also includes paying for increased health insurance and utility costs.

CLICK HERE: Breakdown of Union County budget