Local News

Wake county, school leaders, realizing budget cuts

Posted August 19, 2009 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated August 19, 2009 6:48 p.m. EDT

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— Wake County commissioners and school board members met for the first time Wednesday since state lawmakers approved a spending plan that means less funding all around.

The Wake County government and the public school system have been operating under the assumption that they were going to get 4.8 percent less funding from the state this year than last.

"That's $35 million less this year than last year, and we are anticipating more students," Wake County Public School System Superintendent Del Burns said.

They have already built in reductions that will absorb some of those cuts, but that might not be enough. More cuts could be on the way.

"It would not be a surprise if we have further reductions, reversions, if the revenue picture does not improve," Burns said.

One of the measures the district took was to reduce some teaching positions. That means students will see larger class sizes and fewer electives, Burns said.

"Principals are having to make very difficult choices based on student enrollment, on what they do offer, what they don't offer," he said.

On the county side, County Manager David Cooke said that unemployment is up while building permits and sales tax revenue are down.

Plus, the state is passing off costs to the county level.

"Some revenues (that) used to come through the state to the counties no longer will flow that way this year," Cooke said.

The county may look at having to cut another $7.5 million to $8.5 million from this year's budget, because of cuts and revenue drops.

Further cuts for the school system are also not out of the question.

If there is any good news to the Wake County budget picture, it's on the debt-capital side.

Because of the county's AAA bond rating, the county's been able to sell bonds for projects, like a jail expansion on Hammond Road, with lower interest rates than what they expected earlier this year.