Local Politics

Wake leaders talk taxes to balance budget

County commissioners say that budget cuts might not be enough to cover a projected $23 million deficit, and they'll talk about raising taxes during their annual planning session this weekend.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Raising taxes to counteract falling revenue and cover a budget shortfall will be an option on the table during the Wake County commissioners' annual retreat this weekend.

When they gather, at the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, the Board of Commissioners will discuss how to deal with a projected $23 million deficit for this fiscal year and a smaller budget for the following year that begins July 1.

Originally, county officials and commissioners said that raising taxes wasn't likely, given the economic crisis.

However, Commissioner Tony Gurley said the way the board is reacting to this fiscal crisis, there might be no choice but to raise taxes. Gurley said commissioners will discuss that and other options at the weekend retreat.

Earlier forecasts predicted a $17 million shortfall in the 2008-2009 budget of $984 million, but officials announced on Monday that had grown.

Since November, county departments have cut their budgets by 4 percent and started to prepare for possible cuts of 10 percent in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

The county has projected a budget $965 million for 2009-2010.

In other cost-cutting measures, the county implemented a hiring freeze, leaving 149 positions vacant. The Wake County School system, Wake Technical Community College and other programs returned a combined $6 million that they had been allocated.