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As Wake Shapes Budget, Agencies Asking for $75M More

The Wake County Board of Commissioners has a daunting task ahead – balancing a budget at the same time agencies, including the schools, have for $75 million more than last year.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Wake County Board of Commissioners has a daunting task ahead – balancing the budget as agencies say what they need to serve the public.

The school system is asking for the biggest increase – $35 million more than last year – a 12 percent increase.

The money will be used to pay teachers salaries and cover the cost of school programs. It does not include new school construction, also a hefty expense.

"But I think if we can prove to them that we need it, and that we are good stewards of the money, then we should receive it,” Board of Education Chairwoman Rosa Gill said.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office is asking for an extra $3.1 million over its 2007-08 budget.

Public Safety is requesting an additional $5 million.

In all, budget requests are $75 million more than last year. The 2008-09 fiscal year opens July 1.

"Just like your wish list for Christmas, you have that wish list, but you don't always get everything that you are asking for," Gill said.

The commissioners met Monday to begin the process of deciding who gets what. Because of growth, the county collected $37 million in new revenue, but that still leaves a $38 million gap.

"We are fortunate that we do have additional resources coming in. You just have to prioritize and do the best that you can," Board of Commissioners Chairman Joe Bryan said.

The county has seen a large increase in property values from a revaluation completed last year, but commissioners promised they would start the budget process by assuming a reduced tax rate that would protect the average property owner against an automatic tax increase.

The Wake County commissioners will hold public hearings June 2 on the recommended budget they devise. They are scheduled to adopt a budget two weeks later.



Tom Normanly, Photographer
Minnie Bridgers, Web Editor

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