Local Politics

Raleigh officials worry about 2009-10 budget

Posted February 10, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— A hiring freeze and cuts in spending should help Raleigh balance its budget this year, city officials said Tuesday, but they already are worrying about the 2009-10 budget.

The recession will leave the city with about $5.1 million less in revenue for the 2008-09 year than budgeted, according to figures released Tuesday. Small gains in property tax revenue and license fees were offset by sharp declines in sales tax revenue and inspection fees – they're off by $3.8 million and $4.6 million, respectively.

Raleigh budget with city seal Raleigh balances budget with hiring freeze, cuts

"It certainly is a matter of concern, and the council is following it very carefully," Mayor Charles Meeker said.

Still, city officials said, they expect to end the fiscal year in June with a $6.9 million surplus at the end of June after cutting expenses by $34 million, including saving $15.5 million through a hiring freeze and $15.2 million through lower fuel costs, limiting travel and cutting back on supplies.

"We've been scaling back expenses ... (having) soft hiring freezes where it makes sense and freezing some capital maintenance items," City Manager Russell Allen said.

Allen said the city will still fill vacant positions in the fire and police departments when officers or other employees leave. However, he said neither should expect to see the employee base expand.

“I’ve seen enough of the numbers so far to know it's going to take that kind of holding the line on base budgets," Allen said about keeping the budget balanced.

The $6.9 million balance would be higher than the $5.2 million surplus at the end of the 2007-08 fiscal year.

Officials said they are more concerned now with balancing the 2009-10 budget. The City Council will begin budget discussions next month.

"In terms of what we do next year, we're going to have to keep a very close eye on that," Meeker said.

"Revenues will likely be off a substantial amount in total – we'll have a total year of sales tax lower," Allen said, noting projecting revenue over the next 18 months is difficult because the the sliding economy.

"The sales taxes are going to fluctuate," Meeker said. "We'll see where those are in May, and we'll have to make decisions based on that. It has been our policy not to raise taxes during times like this, but to try and get our spending down."

That means the hiring freeze will likely remain in place as officials look for other ways to cut back, Allen said.

"We have a higher demand for service – we're still growing – (but) we're not going to be in a position to add employees in next year's budget," he said.

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  • getrealpeople Feb 11, 2009

    State of NC is responsible for the health care plan that is poorly run. Not the City of Raleigh.

    handouts?? The City of Raleigh provides police, fire, and Utilites like Water. There are no handouts!

    The civic center is a city/wake county project paid with hotel/meal taxes not your property taxes. Yes, the Mint was subsidized fit up in a city owned building which was not the smartest idea. Fayetteville Street cost ten million but resulted in building of about 200 million of private buildings like RBC and Marriott Hotel. Money well spent. Are you against the $$$ spent on removing power lines and redoing the sidewaks on Glenwood south?? Do you want someone to show up when you dial 911????

  • cwmllc1952 Feb 11, 2009

    If the city gets a stimulus check lets see if they use it to support wasteful spending in city agencies or to help stimulate the economy.Government offices,etc.live by if you don't spend it all this year we'll not get as much next year.And please MEEKER lets give another MILLION to a restaurant.Thus the name;whats another "MILLION MEEKER"

  • auburnogre Feb 11, 2009

    We keep electing them so we deserve them. Government does not generate revenue they simply redistribute collected fees, taxes, fines, etc. The US is making approx. $14.58 trillion dollars in gross domestic product or GDP. We pay 6.2 trillion in taxes to fed/state/local government. By the way, of the approx. $14.58 trillion GDP, 4.06% funds the military, 5.3% funds education, and 60% funds debt. I wonder how much more people will be willing to pay before they decide enough is enough.

  • chrbellm9 Feb 11, 2009

    I feel sorry for all you taxpayers that live in "Meekerville." You know what there setting you up for next year or sooner!!

  • Duke _Nukem Feb 11, 2009

    LOL. I love politics. Citizens of Raleigh, get ready for longer waits for garbage pick up, longer waits for police reponse, longer waits for everything that they say are vital parts of the city, but they'll make sure that DDH is demolished and that their pet projects stay the course.

  • OrdinaryCitizen Feb 11, 2009

    Man lands on the Moon!

  • NCPictures Feb 11, 2009

    Welcome to the REAL world politicians!

  • wralfan1 Feb 11, 2009

    This is what needs a mature palnning. The city had money for Fayetteville street mall, destroy and rebuild Raleigh convention center. Are these projects generating revenue?
    There was no need to close down libraries or worries if these were put in mind. I hope the new govt keeps these things in mind when they plan for future projects. I love this city/state/country and alwyas pray to God to give strngth to pull thru this crisis.

  • davidgnews Feb 10, 2009

    They should have been worried when they were building those pet projects.

  • ThePunisher Feb 10, 2009

    Maybe when Perdue gets back from vacation she could pitch in and help

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