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Meeker: Raleigh can't slow down in recession

Posted January 26, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker on Monday outlined the city's priorities for the year, including better planning and more efficient use of resources.

Meeker said bold action is needed to move Raleigh forward in the face of a nationwide recession that has cost thousands their jobs and has led to curtailed spending.

"We're in a recession. That's where we are. Let's deal with it," he said to a luncheon crowd at the Raleigh Rotary Club meeting.

Falling tax revenue has forced Raleigh to cut back on capital projects, such as street repair and park maintenance. With the exception of public safety, every department in city government faces a hiring freeze to save about $15 million.

"This is going to be a year when the council gets the budget in May or June where we are choosing which programs to continue, not choosing which programs to add. It's going to be that kind of year, and we need to be realistic about it," Meeker said.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker Raleigh mayor delivers 2009 State of City address

City Manager Russell Allen said he expects cuts to city operations and possible layoffs of city employees in the coming months.

"We'll not be looking at new programs," Allen said, calling the recession the worst economic crisis he's seen in 30 years in public administration. "We'll be looking at where we can cut expenses (and) actually cut positions.

"We try really hard not to lay off employees," he said. "If you can hold openings, you've got more flexibility to cut a position without affecting somebody's job."

Still, Meeker said Raleigh can't afford to wait for the economy to rebound and needs to keep pushing ahead so that the city will be well-positioned to take advantage of the rebound when it occurs. He emphasized his point by referring to President Barack Obama's inaugural address last week.

Mayor outlines Raleigh's priorities for coming year

"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America," he said, quoting Obama. "That's great advice for us here in the city of Raleigh, too."

Priorities for the coming year include updating Raleigh's comprehensive plan, which governs how the city will grow in the future, Meeker said. Other top issues include expanding public transportation, better conservation of water and energy – through both reduced consumption and increased efficiency – and continuing efforts to transform part of Dorothea Dix Hospital into a destination park for Raleigh, he said.


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  • curiousgeorgia Jan 27, 2009

    And how about investigating his son's interesting investments?

  • foetine Jan 27, 2009

    Meeker seems to not notice that Raleigh has little pull in keeping jobs with international companies. If RBC had gone the way of Wachovia, would would happen to this town?

  • PaulRevere Jan 27, 2009

    Speaking in broad generalities with rhetorical themes is a democrat specialty!

  • discowhale Jan 27, 2009

    More fiscal foolishness.

    Why can't the elected ones EVER do like the rest of us when income is down? Tighten their belts and hang on!!!

    The bad part is that by re-election time, most of the voters in Meekerville will have forgotten his shortcomings, and vote for Meeker again to ensure that no one Republican gets into office.

  • Fun Jan 26, 2009

    Civic Center is big dissapointment-granted it's like a work of art but it's smaller! The boat show had about 1/2 the capacity of the old civic center. All the old center needed was some sprusing up. Same location basically. We could have saved 200 million dollars. Awh but the Meeker legacy...thats what we would have been missing! Just another day in Meekerville.

  • jcrew21483 Jan 26, 2009

    NCcarguy, I'm not saying they are entitled to their job at all..But I would never wish anyone to get laid off like you have. Like other companies, If it came down to it as a last resort, then they should go from there. You saying that they should do that now like its no big deal is a sad statement from a sad person. Good luck in life because you are gonna need it.

  • davidgnews Jan 26, 2009

    With 0 concern for crime, layoffs and foreclosures, we can file this speech under "Out of Touch" and revisit in 60 days. By then maybe reality will force him out of denial. venitapeyton

    I agree, and wish that you would run again.

  • gtfo Jan 26, 2009

    hey meeker, why don't you start buy bringing me the new recycle bin i asked for 6 months ago?

  • Alert5 Jan 26, 2009

    Is that new convention center paying for itself? No one can know because there was an agreement that Meeker hammered out that the specific info for the convention center would not be separated with the RBC etc....

  • craziecrafter Jan 26, 2009

    For those who pay City of Raleigh taxes, I really feel for you. If you saw the waste of money there like I saw before I retired you would be in cardiac arrest. Someone from WRAL or the N&O needs to look deeper into the budget and the waste.