“We have great opportunities here and I look forward to working with all of you,” opened Ellis.
Less than a week after Ellis introduced his budget proposal, totaling a little more than $1.3 billion, he discussed the spending priorities in that proposal.
The budget includes a 2.9-cent increase to the property tax rate. For a $300,000 home, that would add $87 to the tax bill yearly.
Ellis said there needs to be an increased focus on housing affordability in our area.
“We just don’t have enough homes being built on yearly basis to keep up with the number of folks moving here,” he said.
Ellis called for a “historic” investment in housing, looking to build 500 affordable housing units a year.
Among other topics in the proposed budget, he also spoke about education funding.
“Wake County is committed to education,” said Ellis. “Education really sets the foundation for kids moving forward.”
Ellis’ proposal calls for investing an additional $30 million for the Wake County Public School System this year, with per-pupil spending at $2,618.
Haley spoke after Ellis and said his takeaway is that Wake County is committed to smart growth strategies.
“As a community, we’re making strong investments today for a stronger tomorrow,” said Haley.
He talked about the importance of investing in education.
“Talent is what drives this community,” said Haley. “Education is the underpinning of our success.”
Haley said Wake County Economic Development currently is working 51 active jobs, which he described as companies looking to expand or come to the market for a new growth opportunity. Potentially, that could mean nearly 15,000 jobs combined.
“The demand for talent in this market is so strong,” said Haley.
He said for every one new tech job in our marketplace, four other jobs are created.
Both then opened up the floor for questions from the audience. One person who attended asked about their reflections on the recent Inter-City Visit and Leadership Conference to Seattle.
“Seattle is not Raleigh,” said Ellis. “You need to plan smartly.”
Ellis mentioned the homelessness issue facing Seattle.
“You need to plan now and you need to plan smart,” said Haley. “You need to be able to partner at an intergovernmental level if you want to address broad problems.”
Ellis said the county needs to partner with private companies and developers to solve the housing issue.
Another audience member asked about transportation in our region.
Joe Milazzo II, executive director of the Regional Transportation Alliance, a program of the Raleigh Chamber, was in the audience. He talked about transportation improvements that have happened and are continuing to happen.
“In the last 17 years, we’ve added 50 miles of freeway,” Milazzo said. “In the next ten years, we’ll add 40 more miles of freeway.”
He also talked about how four bus rapid transit lines all will be open in the next ten years and pointed to the new Union Station, where trains will begin stopping this month.
Milazzo encouraged anyone who wants to learn more to visit www.letsgetmoving.org/forward.
We want to thank Ellis and Haley for taking part in today’s discussion. We also want to thank our Series Sponsor, Duck Donuts.
Our next Coffee with Leaders event will be with Eric Shander, executive vice president and chief financial officer with Red Hat, Inc. We’ll have more details about this event posted at a later date.
Coffee with Leaders is an event that the Chamber hosts for businesses that have 50 employees or fewer.