Local Politics

Wake leaders finding room for budget cuts

Posted December 8, 2008

— Wake County commissioners heard proposals from department heads Monday about budget cuts – 4 percent this year, maybe 10 percent next year – to make up for a shortfall that could approach $30 million in a worst-case scenario.

In some proposals, the Wake County Sheriff's Office could reduce training, Emergency Medical Services would  not buy some new equipment, and libraries would eliminate programs for adults and teenagers.

"Some of the cuts shouldn't be that difficult to find. But definitely, there is the potential for some cuts that people will notice," Commissioner Tony Hurley said.

County departments have identified one-time savings of nearly $11 million, including a hiring freeze and halt to travel by employees and also from supplies and materials, contractual services and training. They apply only to this fiscal year, which ends next June 30.

Officials identified some services that could be impacted by budget cuts:

  • a minor reduction to food-stamp services
  • reductions to mental- and public-health pharmaceuticals and to in-home aide service to adults
  • less overtime for field and processing agents with the City/County Bureau of Identification
  • reduced janitorial services, including power-washing buildings and landscaping
  • a delay in finding leased space for the Board of Elections

Sheriff's office and EMS officials said any more budget cuts would impact public-safety services and response times.

County leaders were preparing to lose $18.6 million in the coming months as the slowing economy and deflated housing market eat into sales-tax and deed-stamp revenue. In a worst-case scenario, those losses increase to $28.8 million.

"We don't know where the bottom is in terms of this recession," Commissioner Stan Nor walk said.

Alongside the department cuts, county leaders have identified $13.1 million more in potential savings – from the public school system, Wake Technical Community College and even a delay in renting space at Dorthea Dix Hospital.

Those bring savings up to $24.6 million for this year. And raising taxes to meet the shortfall isn't on the table at this time.

"We ought to be able to manage our way through this thing and deal with things in a very responsible manner," County Manager David Cooke said.

The county Budget Office is reviewing the proposals, and top county officials will make recommendations to commissioners in January. They will get reports on second-quarter revenues at the same time.

Departments will also be challenged to find permanent reductions for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.


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  • whatelseisnew Dec 9, 2008

    Keep going; cut it by 100 million; that is a reasonably good start.

  • bs101fly Dec 8, 2008

    they need to hammer the school board EVEN more and make some of it up there! The school system is wasting millions busing kids around for THEIR agendas! They've over stated growth projections and been WAY off in their "guesstimate" for 2+ years now and our children are being failed by the Chuck Dulaney/Del Burns policies and test scores prove it!
    Make the school system take cuts and suffer just like they make the families of Wake County suffer by their mandatory and almost socialist policies!

  • WRALblows Dec 8, 2008

    This deserves to be repeated:

    1) eliminate socio-economic based busing and send kids to the school closest to their home. This will save a fortune in diesel fuel.

  • yellow_hat Dec 8, 2008

    They need to mimic industry - lay off 10-20% of their workforce (or more on the administration side) , and demand the remainder just to suck up their workload.

  • colliedave Dec 8, 2008

    I refuse to believe the budget is so lean it contains no fat

  • patriotsrevenge Dec 8, 2008

    "Where is all of the EDUCATION LOTTERY MONEY going? I don't understand how they are cutting funds from schools."-- drose4814

    Oh please, you people just don't get it. Lottery money supplements the budget, it doesn't replace it. Lottery whiners, go away.

  • S82R Dec 8, 2008

    Hard to believe they will have less when everybody I know saw their property taxes almost double from last year. Sure I might pay less in sales tax but its because I had to spend that much less to pay the new property tax since this re-evaluation went through.

  • drose4814 Dec 8, 2008

    Where is all of the EDUCATION LOTTERY MONEY going? I don't understand how they are cutting funds from schools.

  • whatelseisnew Dec 8, 2008

    NCcarguy - it is not about stopping growth; it is about controlling growth so that you do not end up in a huge hole of debt. That is where the county has gone. If they had no debt, as they should have, they would not have to cut the budget by a dollar, and we would be paying lower taxes. But you PRO-Growth crowd do not seem to be bothered by high taxes so why don't you round up a bunch of your ilk and all of you send in extra money.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Dec 8, 2008

    This is great news isn't it? It means all the STOP growth crowd have gotten what they want!!! wonder how many of them have lost thier jobs?