Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh, to be Wake County - for budget reasons

This budget season, we wish we could be Wake County. Just for budget reasons, of course.

Today, Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones unveiled his budget and the harsh cuts it will demand to plug a $81.1 million deficit. But just a day earlier, Wake County Manager David Cooke was unveiling a budget that calls for just $2.4 million less than the county spent last year.

Oh, to be in Wake County’s shoes!

Wake's budget involves no property tax increase and the elimination of about 58 full-time positions (Meck is looking at something like 500, more than 8 times as many), 28 of them occupied. There will be no library closings and Wake County schools will operate on the same amount of money as last year.

“I feel kind of fortunate,” said Ron Margiotta, the Wake school board chairman. “It would be wonderful if we could get more, but I’m glad this is what we are getting.”

We've got a feeling that's not a sentiment that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Chairman Eric Davis will be sharing. Mecklenburg County Manager Jones cut $21 million from what the schools are getting this year.

Here’s a look at a couple of other local budgets unveiled, and how officials plan to deal with sluggish revenue due to the recession, this week:

TAX INCREASE: In Durham, City Manager Tom Bonfield proposed a budget Monday night that eliminates 31 staff positions (15 jobs are unfilled) and raises the property-tax rate by 1.19 cents per $100 valuation – an extra $23.80 on a house valued at $200,000. No raises for city employees.

HIGHER UTILITY AND GARBAGE COLLECTION FEES: In High Point, City Manager Strib Boynton’s proposed 2010-11 budget calls for holding the property tax rate steady, but residents and businesses would see higher utility rates and a new garbage collection fee under the spending plan unveiled Monday. The High Point Public Library, which is currently open seven days a week, would close on Mondays and operating hours at five of the city’s six recreation centers would be reduced by 15 hours per week during the school year. A solid waste collection fee might be instituted depending on what happens with state and county shared revenue sources. The budget also would eliminate 51 full and part-time vacant city positions.