Local News

Local leaders: Triangle best place for riding out recession

Posted January 30, 2009 12:39 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Despite the downturn in the economy, managers for Durham, Raleigh and Cary maintain the Triangle is the best place to ride out the recession.

"I know the numbers – whether it's unemployment, whether it's decline in revenues, whether it's development activity – we are better off than so many other places in the state, other places in the country," Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield said Friday at the annual meeting for the Triangle Community Coalition.

That's not to say the Triangle hasn't take a hit in growth.

For example, Raleigh's residential permits are down 38 percent within the past six months compared with the same period from the previous year. Construction value is down 62 percent.

"We're not experiencing negative growth," Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen said. "We're still experiencing growth. It's just not as large as it was in the past."

That could change the economic strategy in the Triangle, Chris Sinclair, with the Triangle Community Coalition, which is dedicated to balancing growth and economic development.

"I think the conversation has gone from, 'How do we manage our growth to how do we stimulate our growth," Sinclair said.

Decreased growth means decreased revenue, which means tough budget decisions ahead.

"Although revenues are going to be down for all of us, they're not going to be devastating, because we budget conservatively for them," Allen said.

Raleigh might have to trim 5 to 7 percent of its budget; Cary is looking at a 7 percent cut; and Durham could be looking at closer than a 10 percent cut.

Allen and Interim Cary Town Manager Ben Shivar say they will not propose an increase in property taxes. Durham cannot say as it is still looking at budget options.

They all want to cut expenses without layoffs and by eliminating vacant positions.

"We have to work very closely with our citizens to kind of re-evaluate completely what are our priorities for what we do," Bonfield said.