Local Politics

Wake budget plan lays off 25, holds line on taxes

Posted May 17, 2010 2:31 p.m. EDT
Updated May 17, 2010 6:11 p.m. EDT

Money generic, dollars

— Wake County residents would see no property tax increase under the proposed budget presented Monday by County Manager David Cooke.

The $951 million budget for the fiscal year that starts in July also lays off 25 county employees and eliminates another 33 vacant positions. Over the past two years, Wake County has eliminated 197 positions, Cooke said, adding that officials hope to find positions in county government for the 25 people who will lose their jobs.

All remaining county employees would go a second straight year without a salary increase under Cooke's proposal. He called the salary freeze his one regret in the budget, saying it's "not an accepted practice" to go that long without offering people raises.

The moves are needed to close a projected $18 million deficit for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

“For the last two years, the county has reduced the budget to meet the current financial realities,” Cooke said in a statement.

Local sales tax revenue remains down – county officials project $113.6 million in the coming year, compared with $122.6 million this year – but residential building permits seem to be on the rise again after months of decline. Almost 1,500 permits were filed in the first four months of this year, compared with fewer than 1,000 between January and April 2009.

The county would have to transfer $4 million from its capital improvement account to help balance the budget, but Cooke said that wouldn't affect any planned construction projects.

Cooke thanked the Wake County Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for kicking in an extra $3 million to support county operations above its usual $1 million, which he said would prevent further cuts.

The proposed budget also calls for keeping the public library in Garner open. The library was considered as a possible cut several months ago, but local residents rallied to keep the library open.

The county would provide $313.5 million to the Wake County Public School System for the upcoming school year under the proposal. That would keep county funding at the same level is has been during the 2009-10 school year.

Funding for groups like Marbles Kids Museum, the United Arts Council and Communities in Schools would be cut by 7 percent.

The Board of Commissioners must approve a budget before June 30.