Local Politics

Proposed budget for Wake County holds line on taxes

Posted May 18, 2009 3:32 p.m. EDT
Updated May 18, 2009 7:16 p.m. EDT

Wake County Manager David Cooke presented his recommendations for the county’s 2009-10 budget to the Board of Commissioners Monday afternoon. He recommended no increase in the property tax rate, but a reduction of 122 positions from the number in the 2008-09 budget.

Revenues to the county have fallen since this time last year. Collections have slowed for both property and sales taxes. Cooke’s proposal reflects that. He asked for $31 million less than he did in fiscal year 2009.

"We are committed to balancing the budget without increasing taxes," Cooke said. "Because this is a long-term financial challenge, we determined that reductions in the budget must be sustainable."
The budget proposal, for a total of almost $100 million, is 3.1 percent less than the county budget for the fiscal year 2008-09. Expenditures in two major areas – education and county government – would decrease.

The greatest cuts came from county government, where each department was asked to make reductions. Cooke recommended that two libraries -- Athens Drive and Duraleigh -- be closed.
Of the 122 jobs targeted for elimination, 102 are open positions. No reductions would be taken from ambulance services, detention officers or sheriff's deputies. County employees would forgo raises under the plan.

"I don't think anybody is going to like it,” Cooke said. “Nobody likes the idea of not being able to have a pay increase … but I do think there is an understanding of the economic situation."

Wake County schools, including the public school system and Wake Technical Community College, would see funding decrease by 0.9 percent.

The county would put more money toward capital projects, including funds for the construction of a library on Leesville Road, a detention center on Hammond Road and a center for mental health and substance abuse services.

The public can comment on the budget proposal before it is finalized at meetings June 1. Meetings will be held at 2 p.m. at the Wake County Courthouse, Room 700 and at 7 p.m. at the Commons Building in Wake County Office Park.

The commissioners will meet for a work session June 8 in anticipation of a vote June 15.