Local Politics

Wake slashes budget by $23M

Posted February 2, 2009 5:19 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Wake County commissioners on Monday approved about $23.2 million in budget cuts to move spending into line with lower projections for tax revenue.

Various county departments cut about $14.2 million, while Wake County's public schools returned about $5.7 million of its annual support from the county and Wake Technical Community College returned about $306,000.

"We're making a lot of tough decisions other areas have had to make in years past," Commissioner Tony Gurley said.

Because of lagging revenue from sales taxes and real estate deed stamps, fiscal analysts recently projected a budget deficit of at least $23 million for the 2008-09 year.

County Manager David Cooke ordered departments to cut their budgets by 4 percent and advised them to prepare a list of cuts totaling 10 percent in case further cuts are needed in the coming months and during the 2009-10 budget year.

A hiring freeze the keeps more than 100 vacant positions open to account for a chunk of the cuts.

"We believe there will be minimal impact on service delivery, (but some) customers may have to wait longer (in lines) because there are fewer employees," Cooke said.

Cutting the budget could help forestall a property tax increase to erase the deficit, county officials said.

"The underlying assumption in everything you will hear is that property taxes will stay where they are. If things get bad enough, things may change, but we don't forecast it getting that bad," Commissioner Stan Norwalk said.

More cuts could mean layoffs of county employees or the closure of some public libraries, officials said.

"I don't think any of us want to see a library close, but we may not have a choice," Commissioner Betty Lou Ward said.