Wake County commissioners pass budget by 5-2 vote; approve extra $5M for schools

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Wake County commissioners passed an amendment for extra money for WCPSS - but not what the schools wanted.

Wake County commissioners passed the Fiscal Year 2018 budget by a 5-2 vote Monday evening.

Earlier Monday, commissioners also voted 5-2 on an amendment to give WCPSS $5 million more than what the county manager recommended, giving the school system $21 million over last year. That amount isn't half of what the district requested, however.

The $5 million for the Wake County Public School System brings the total increase in funding from FY2017 to $21 million and the overall investment in public education in FY2018 to $430.9 million. This represents a 31.6-percent increase in the county's contribution to the school district over four budget years;

Still, the increase was much lower than the $45.2 million in new local funds that the school system had requested.

Several Wake County commissioners voiced frustration, saying the annual tug of war with funding between the county and Wake County Schools. has got to stop.

"We cannot continue to blame each other for problems created by another body, I'm tired of continuously being told to do more with less and then being told we didn't do enough with enough," said Wake County commissioner John Burns.

Commissioners said they're torn with being able to give more to schools while keeping promises to be lean on tax increases.

"My concern about taking a part of these funds from capital is the reality that we already can't build schools fast enough," said county commissioner Jessica Holmes.

WCPSS school board members have not said what type of impact this level of funding will have on its programming for the 2017-18 school year, but the school board will adopt a budget resolution at its meeting Tuesday evening.

The budget also includes a request from the Wake County Board of Commissioners to the Wake County Board of Education to collaborate on a work plan that would develop a rolling, multi-year local operating budget forecast for WCPSS.

The goal is to "clearly articulate, validate, and communicate the assumptions, drivers and priorities that will inform future funding requests from the school district."

The Board of Education would be required to take action on this proposed partnership to launch development of the work plan.

Other approved changes:
  • $80,000 to add Sunday operating hours at Richard B. Harrison, Green Road and Fuquay-Varina community libraries;

  • $50,000 in one-time funding for Legal Aid of North Carolina to provide residents in vulnerable communities with representation in legal matters related to housing; and

  • $25,000 in one-time funding to provide emergency assistance to displaced residents of the Forest Hills complex in Garner.

ABC11's Angelica Alvarez contributed to this report.
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