Local Politics

Durham County proposes funding cuts, no furloughs

Posted May 26, 2009 7:00 p.m. EDT
Updated May 27, 2009 10:58 a.m. EDT

Money in hands

— Durham County would cut local education funding by 2.8 percent and funding for all county departments by 6.6 percent under a 200-10 budget proposed Monday by County Manager Mike Ruffin.

The cuts would let the county balance its budget in the fiscal year that starts in July without resorting to employee layoffs or furloughs, Ruffin said. Thirty-three vacant positions would be eliminated, however, he said.

"The greatest challenge we face is how to adjust spending to realistic levels," Ruffin said in a statement. "Clearly, the right thing to do is to adjust spending to levels that current economic conditions can support."

Funding to both Durham Public Schools and Durham Technical Community College would be reduced by 2.8 percent under Ruffin's proposal. Ruffin said the school district is expecting to enroll about 1,100 fewer students in the fall, which would lessen the impact of the cut.

The budget proposal calls for slashing funding to county departments by 6.6 percent, and nonprofit agencies that receive county support also would see a 6.6 percent cut. No new agencies would be funded under the proposal.

Although county workers would retain their jobs, Ruffin's proposal calls for all salaries to be frozen for the coming year.

"Our employees recognize that these difficult economic times require these sacrifices and are willing to make them so we can continue to serve our citizens in a greater time of need," he said.

Sheriff Worth Hill, who earlier predicted budget cuts would force him to lay off up to 40 deputies, said Ruffin did "a great job in a difficult position" with the proposal.

Hill said five deputies would retire, and he plans to wait until the Board of Commissioners approves a final budget to determine where to cut from his operational budget. Some ideas include holding off on the purchase of new patrol cars and delaying maintenance on cruisers.