Wake prepares for worst with list of cuts

January 30, 2009 11:33:23 AM PST
The economic crisis could lead to dramatic cuts in Wake County government offices. Friday, Wake County Commissioners saw what it would look like if each county department cut 10 percent of its budget for fiscal year.

The county manager asked each department head to prepare a list in case drastic cuts become necessary.

Click here to view the proposed list of cuts. NOTE: This is an Excel file.

Some county jobs will be lost said Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley during Thursday's meeting.

"It will involve reductions in force," he said. "We were able to do the 4 percent reductions this year without affecting people. No one was let go. Whereas to reduce 10 percent will not be that way."

Fewer ambulances are just some of the proposed cuts Wake County Department heads submitted Thursday afternoon to the county manager.

With a budget of $5.1 million, the County is looking at potential cuts totaling $515,000.

Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan is not supportive of a tax hike during the present economic environment, even if it would mean less cuts.

"I will not raise taxes this year in this kind of economic crisis, and I think anybody would be stupid to raise taxes in this kind of environment so that means you've got to take the resources that you have and re-prioritize them," Bryan said.

Law enforcement is also feeling the pinch.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said he's not sure how he could trim 10 percent.

The Sheriff told commissioners he's already operating at bare minimum, but because of tight times, all options must be considered.

"If we have to go 10 percent we'll probably have to cut, a number of people, probably a hundred people -- or more," Harrison said.

Most of his operating budget is spent on personnel.

"When it really comes down to it, most of our monies are for personnel," Harrison said. "I would say probably 70 percent or more is basically personnel."

The Sheriff said other options will include keeping patrol vehicles longer and delaying the purchase of supplies.

He worries what such cuts might mean for the safety of Wake County citizens.

Some things on the cutting block: quick emergency response and reliable public safety. Two things residents have come to depend on while living in Wake County.

Wake EMS officials say they wouldn't resort to layoffs but would have to decrease the hours ambulances are on the road.

Six vehicles that normally are used 24 hours a day would be dropped to 12-hour shifts.

County leaders stress such drastic options are unlikely to become reality.

"Are you gonna see, oh, we're not gonna have sheriffs patrolling, or we're not gonna have EMS responding," Commissioner Bryan said. "That may be on the list, but I can assure you that's not gonna happen."

That means other items and other jobs probably will be cut.

Mike Wasilick, assistant director for the Wake County Public Library system, told Eyewitness News 27 jobs would be eliminated and five of the county's 19 library branches would be closed in order to meet 10 percent reductions.

The libraries that could be targeted are Duraleigh Road, Wendell, Southgate, as well as the Athens Drive Community branch and the Electronic Information Center in downtown Raleigh. Wasilick also said libraries could see branch weekly hours slashed, from 63 to 52.


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