Chapel Hill Residents Beg, 'Please, Raise Our Taxes!'

Posted: Jun 05, 2007 9:55 AM

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Welcome to the Triangle

Parent after parent came before the Orange County Board of Commissioners on Monday night with one request: raise my taxes to fund our schools.

"You guys have got to be the envy of all the other 99[boards of] commissioners in the state of North Carolina," said parent Eric Davis of Hillsborough.

But the commissioners don't see it that way this year, as they try to toe a firm line on limiting tax increases after roughly 20 straight years of hikes.

The school board is, in fact, already raising taxes once again, but not by enough, you see:

Citing concern for county residents on fixed incomes who are struggling to cover rising bills, they directed County Manager Laura Blackmon to prepare a budget that increases taxes only as needed to cover the county's debt service. The resulting recommended budget, which raises the tax rate by 3.7 cents but keeps per-pupil school spending constant,has outraged a large and vocal group of parents.

The sheer enthusiasm for the government to take more of their money is stunning:

Hundreds showed up at a budget public hearing Monday where more than 50 people signed up to speak. The vast majority requested that the commissioners fully fund the school systems' requests, with a few others speaking on other budget matters. As the hearing entered its third hour, only two people had said they oppose tax increases.

The board chairman had to spend the first part of the meeting bragging about the fact that they had raised taxes for 20 straight years.

"There were some perceptions expressed at the last meeting that the county commissioners had cut school funding," Carey said. "We don't want anyone to leave here this evening thinking that the county commissioners have cut school funding because that is not the case."

But the townspeople would not be appeased:

How can you refuse to raise taxes if that is what the majority of your constituents want," she said, noting that the reputation of local schools is what keeps property values high.

This, my friends, is where John Edwards' policy is born. Be afraid of it.