Local Politics

Wake commissioners vote down pay cuts, but two agree to take less

Posted March 23, 2009 4:54 p.m. EDT
Updated March 23, 2009 8:27 p.m. EDT

— Wake County commissioners voted against taking a pay cut Monday evening but agreed that the commissioners could volunteer for pay reductions.

The vote was 4-2 against Commissioner Joe Bryan's proposal to shave 10 percent from commissioners' $19,095 annual salaries.

After the vote, Commissioner Tony Gurley joined Bryan in agreeing to cut their pay. The two were the only ones to vote in favor of the measure.

Commissioners Lindy Brown, Stan Norwalk, Betty Lou Ward and Harold Webb voted against the pay cut. Commissioner Paul Coble was not present at the meeting.

Based on lagging revenue from sales taxes and real estate deed stamps, fiscal analysts projected a budget shortfall of at least $23 million for the 2008-09 year. County departments have cut their budgets by 4 percent and started to prepare for possible 10 percent cuts in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

When he proposed the cut, Bryan said it would have symbolic significance for taxpayers facing economic hardships.

“Often times, you will hear elected officials say, ‘We understand. We feel what is going on.’ Here is a case where we can actually lead by example,” he said.

Earlier in March, Commissioner Lindy Brown said she opposed the pay cut because she had quit her job to dedicate more time to public service. The cuts wouldn't have an immediate effect, since they would have to be put into the next budget, she said.

The county has projected a budget $965 million for 2009-2010. Officials have said that 10 percent cut could mean layoffs, termination of vacant positions and the closure of some public libraries.

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.