RALEIGH -- This fall, Wake County voters will decide whether they want a nearly $1 billion school bond to build and renovate more than a dozen new schools in the state's largest school district.
However, the bond would require a five cent property tax increase and one group is taking aim at the plan, saying there's a better way to foot the bill.
“We're against the school bond because we don't need the 16 new schools that their talking about,” said Tony Pecoraro, vice president of the Wake County Taxpayers Association.
The Wake County Taxpayers Association is a non-partisan group that monitors government spending. The group is raising eyebrows at the construction program that would require about a five-cent hike in property taxes.
For the average homeowner in Wake County, with a $264,000 home, taxes would go up about $145 a year.
“We believe it would be better to use the money to give teachers raises rather than bricks and mortar they don't need,” added Pecoraro.
The association said more students are looking at private, charter, and home schooling as an alternative option to public schools.
However, Wake County school officials maintain the number of students seeking an alternative education has already been factored into their projected growth. They said they expect to see 20,000 new students during the next five years.
“It's inevitable that these families are coming whether we pass a bond or not,” said Tim Simmons, vice president of policy and communications for the Wake Education Partnership.
Simmons said he's seen what happens when a bond doesn't pass.
“It took many years to catch up and many of the crowding and reassignment issues that followed were the result of a bond that didn't pass in 1999,” added Simmons.
Wake County saw its most recent school bond in 2006. Officials said those funds stretched more than expected during the economic slowdown.
Meanwhile, Taxpayers Association leaders said they'll continue to take a stand against this referendum.
“This may be the least expensive way to borrow money, but if you borrow things you don't need, that's not the wisest use of money,” Pecoraro said.
Now the decision rests with Wake County voters when they head to the polls on Oct. 8.