No Tax Increases in County Budget, 86 Positions Cut

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With rising revenues coming from increasing sales and property taxes, Wake County Manager David Cooke presented his $941.5 million budget for the next fiscal year. This budget comes in at $10.6 million less than the current year’s budget, and includes no property tax increases, but eliminates 86 full-time positions.

The new fiscal year begins July 1.

Cooke said county staff anticipates a 1.25 percent increase in the county’s tax base, which would represent an additional $10 million in revenue. While this an increase from last year, Cooke said it is still not at the pre-recession increases of 5 or 6 percent.

With consumer spending on an upswing, the county anticipates a 2.5 percent increase in sales tax revenue, or about $9 million.

Additional revenue is coming from emergency services fees, which are tied to Medicare rate changes, in the amount of $750,000. About $1.4 million comes from the state for keeping misdemeanor criminals in the county detention center.

The decrease in the budget come primarily from consolidating the Wake County Local Management Entity with Durham County to create Alliance Behavioral Healthcare. The organization will collect the $32.6 million in state and federal revenue, but will also be responsible for the related expenditures. These revenues and expenditures have been removed from the county budget, along with about 110 full time positions.

Cooke said the 86 eliminated positions is a mix of vacant and filled positions, some of which are part of the LME consolidation. He added that the county will try to find positions for those affected employees.

Meanwhile, county employees will see a 2 percent wage increase, and $700,000 set aside for increases in health insurance.

Increased Funding in Education and Public Safety
Both Wake County Public Schools and Wake Technical Community College will receive increases in funding under this proposed budgt. Overall, education funding is increasing $4.1 million for a total of $334.5 million.

During the recession, funding for the public schools remained flat, but next year $318.3 million will be allocated, which is an increase of $3.9 million.

“While this does not match the board of education’s request, the recommendation shares the growth in the property tax base,” Cooke said.

Additionally, $7.5 million is budgeted for school nurses, school resource officers, school-based metal health services and other services.

Wake Tech will get an extra $200,000 for a total of $16.2 million.

About $6 million is being allocated to support new criminal justice facilities and public safety services.

The county is putting aside $2.1 million to fund the full-year operation for the detention center expansion on Hammond Road and $1.1 million to support the opening of the new justice center. The center is scheduled to open next year.

As the Wake EMS system converts three 24-hour ambulance shifts to 12-hour shifts, an additional $2.1 million is needed.

Public Comments
A copy of the proposed budget can be found on the county’s website and at all of the public libraries. Residents can also give in put at a public hearing at 2 p.m. Monday, June 4 at the county courthouse and at 7 p.m. the same day at the Wake County Commons, 4011 Carya Drive in Raleigh.

The board is scheduled to vote on the budget on June 18.

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