Less spending hurts local economy

WAKE COUNTY Wake County is short $17 million and ideas for cuts include cutting sheriff deputies from middle schools and freezing overtime from violent crime investigators.

Other ideas include taking one ambulance shift off the Wake County roads, when response times already hover at 12 minutes per ambulance call.

And the human services department, which provides food stamps, rental, and heating assistance, would impose a hiring freeze on a work-force which already suffers 15 percent turnover per year.

"It would be a catastrophe to be honest with you," Wake County Commissioner Lindy Brown said. "And that's because we're not getting funds from the federal government and the state."

With tough choices ahead, Wake County commissioners did get some good news.

Despite the shrinking economy, residents this month paid their property taxes on time at the same rate as years past.

"If we didn't hit those property tax numbers, our shortfall would have been a lot more than $17M," Wake Co. Manager David Cook said.

But the budget gap could still grow as the dismal holiday retail season is starting to sink into local government.

Wake County's sales tax revenues for November were $6 million below the same period for 2007.

"We're going to watch sales tax numbers each and every month just to know what the true impact is on the county," David Cook Wake County Manager said.

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