Education spending: A tale of three counties

July 16. By Debbie Griffin. As each county completes its budgeting process and sets a tax rate, companies throughout Cabarrus, Iredell and Mecklenburg counties have the tax data they’ve been missing and needing to plug into various business-finance formulas.

Each county had until June 30 to approve a budget, including a tax rate for the next fiscal year.

Cabarrus County: 74 cents per $100 of assessed value, a 2-cent increase.

Iredell County: 52.75 cents per $100 of assessed value, an increase of zero.

Mecklenburg County: 61.69 cents per $100 of assessed value, a decrease from 82.32 cents.

What will people and businesses pay for schools and county services? These numbers are based on a property value of $250,000 and don’t include city tax rates:

Cabarrus = $1,850/year or $154/month

Iredell = $1,319/year or $110/month

Mecklenburg = $1,542 per year/$129 per month.

Mecklenburg and Iredell counties conducted large-scale property revaluations in 2018, and owners received notices this spring about their new, increased values. Iredell values were reported to go up between 4% and 18%, depending on the property’s location in the county.

In Mecklenburg, commercial values are up a median 77%, some considerably higher. The revaluation will generate new tax revenue, so Mecklenburg was able to decrease its tax rate per $100 of assessed value.


Business needs workforce development and schools need funding, with about 25% of district budgets coming from local-county sources, 11% or so from federal coffers, and the remainder from North Carolina. Two of the school budgets comprise approximately half of its county’s overall budget.

Schools in Mecklenburg County requested a 15% increase plus $13 million in one-time funding but got 10.2%, representing an overall increase from $484 million to $534 million. Education represents about 28% of its overall, $1.9 billion budget.

The school board in Iredell County requested an additional $7.2 million in funding, an increase of nearly 20%. The county did not increase its tax rate for school funding because the countywide revaluation is expected to generate in the neighborhood of $10 million in additional revenue, which commissioners explained will be used to fund future, ongoing, operational needs of the schools and county.

Iredell had asked taxpayers last year for a quarter-percent increase in the sales tax that would fund the school and county needs, but the measure was denied. Commissioners said the failed measure is why the tax rate wasn’t lowered after the recent revaluation. Iredell’s school budget last year was $95.7 million and for next year is $103.5 million. Education represents 46% of Iredell’s overall $222.6 million budget.

Cabarrus County Schools’ proposed budget for nearly $128 million represents an increase of about 1.79% over last year’s $125.7 million for schools. The 2020 budget includes approval of about $1.5 million in debt service to buy land that in the future will be home to a new Cabarrus County middle and high school, as well as a library-senior center. Its education expenses comprise about 46% of its overall budget of $275.8 million.


Growth drives the need for bigger schools, more roads and improved or expanded infrastructure. A check with the U.S. Census Bureau shows county population numbers:

Cabarrus grew 19% from 2010-2018, from 178,087 people to 211,343.

Iredell grew 12% in that same period, from 157,451 people to 178,435.

Mecklenburg grew 19%, too, from 919,668 people to 1,093,901.

The United States’ overall population has grown by an average of 6% since the last Census.


Employer establishments*

• Cabarrus – 4,234

• Iredell – 4,633

• Mecklenburg – 30,988

*Source: US Census


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