Wake County commissioners passed their next year’s budget with a split 4-3 vote. After more than two hours of sharp debate, the commissioners decided to keep the Athens Drive and Duraleigh Road libraries open.
To make up the budget shortfall created by keeping the two libraries, the commissioners decided to drop support for the African-American Cultural Festival and take another $492,000 out of the capital projects budget.
The new budget, which will begin on July 1, holds the line on property taxes at 53.4 cents. The budget eliminates more than 100 positions. Most of the jobs being cut are vacant. County employees in the few filled positions that are cut will be offered open jobs in other county departments.
The Athens and Duraleigh branch libraries could be open for at least another year, but commissioners and County Manager David Cooke say they are concerned about what the year could hold for the county’s finances. “The state is the wildcard here,” Cooke said, repeating a line he’s used throughout the budget process.
Cooke said that in the event of a financial emergency, such as what happened with the bond market last September, the county has room to make one-time cuts in its capital improvement budget.
The commissioners passed the budget and decided to fund the two libraries with one vote. Lindy Brown, Paul Coble, Joe Bryan and Tony Gurley voted for the budget; Stan Norwalk, Betty Lou Ward and Harrold Webb voted against.