Local Politics

Raleigh to hold line on taxes in 2009-10

Posted May 19, 2009 2:12 p.m. EDT
Updated May 19, 2009 10:19 p.m. EDT

— City Manager Russell Allen on Tuesday laid out a proposed budget that would cut 85 vacant city jobs and hold the line on local property taxes.

To erase a projected $20 million shortfall, Allen proposed operating and capital budgets totaling $696.2 million, and his plan calls for keeping Raleigh's property tax rate at 37.35 cents per $100 of value.

"We will actually be reverting back to a budget level of two years ago, and that has a significant impact on our budget," he said.

The Parks and Recreation Department would take the biggest hit, losing 27 open positions under Allen's proposal. Budget cuts also would force the city to reduce the operating hours and maintenance of community centers, public pools, parks and greenways.

Fifteen positions in the Inspections Department would be cut, and seven other inspectors would transfer to the Raleigh Fire Department to expand fire safety inspections. Allen said the slowdown in the housing market has cut the department's workload.

The Public Works Department would lose 11 positions, as well as its asphalt and pothole patching crew, meaning street repairs would take longer to complete.

Together with other reductions, such as restricting travel and training, holding off on replacing older vehicles and capping pay raises for city workers at 4 percent, the eliminated positions would save Raleigh about $15.1 million in operating costs and $10 million in capital spending, Allen said.

Local 150 of the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, which represents nearly 250 city workers in various departments, immediately criticized Allen's proposal and bashed the city manager for recently accepting a 5 percent pay raise as part of a contract extension.

The proposed $384.5 million operating budget would be 0.7 percent less than the 2008-09 operating budget.

"This is an unusual year," Mayor Charles Meeker said. "No tax increases, no fee increases, no furloughs (and) no layoffs may not seem like much, but in this economy, it's actually a pretty good-sounding budget."

The City Council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. June 2 at City Hall on the budget proposal and will debate details before adopting a final budget later that month.