Wake County eyes deep budget cuts

April 12, 2010 3:42:41 PM PDT
Extreme times call for extreme choices, and Wake County leaders are getting ready to make some tough choices as they stare down a daunting budget.

Every department is facing possible cuts. Not all will be made. But many will and many will be painful. Some programs could be shut down entirely.

Much ado has been made about the Garner public library being in danger of getting shut down to save the county money. But, that's just one of a long list of cuts that may be made next year.

County Commission Chairman Tony Gurley says this budget will go beyond a tightening of belts.

"The easy cuts were made last year. Now, we're really getting to the point where any reduction of the budget will affect the quality of the service," he explained.

Among the services could completely lose funding is the Inner City Mental Health Clinic. Shutting it down would save the county $157,000.

Doing away with PRO-Familia - a program offered by Wake County Human Services for low-income Latino families - would save $208,000.

And, closing the Working for Kids program - which assists noncustodial parents who are unemployed or underemployed obtain employment - would recoup $224,000.

Other groups could see major funding cuts.

All public libraries may be closed on Sundays. County emergency services could see one ambulance and the equivalent of eight EMT positions cut, as well as a chief deputy fire marshal. And, a host of county programs are also danger of serious reductions including:

  • The women's health clinic
  • Resources for seniors
  • Work First
  • Foster care
  • Child mental health services
  • County health clinics and urban ministries

"Everybody knows it's tough times," said County Manager David Cooke.

Cooke says there are two big reasons Wake County is in this position. One is declining revenue. For the second year in a row, the county is taking in less money than it did the year before. The other reason is the state is in its own financial trouble and took a lot of funding away from the county.

Cooke says it all adds up to trouble for Wake County programs and taxpayers.

"We've been in most unique times the last couple years - with the recession and economic times that I haven't seen in my career," he offered.

Click here for the complete list of possible cuts in Wake County

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