Future Wake County projects on hold?

WAKE COUNTY Two years ago, voters approved almost a billion dollars in public school construction projects.

In this economy, leaders say they are not sure Wake County can afford all the new buildings that are now on the books. The money was to go toward building new schools and repairing old ones.

The principal at Wilburn Elementary says she is hoping teachers and students can say goodbye to 13 mobile classrooms and ceilings with exposed pipes.

"We're hoping to be able to move at the end of the school year," principal Jennifer Carnes said.

Wake County will build about 70 percent of its construction projects on time. But Wilburn's renovation and plans for five other schools may be delayed.

"It is totally because of the economy," Carnes said. "If the funds were there and there were not any economic problems, there wouldn't be an issue at all."

School Building Chief Don Haydon says all the campus projects are needed.

"They're I think, they're all important projects," Haydon said.

And schools are not the only projects which are going to be delayed by this economy and Wake County's weakened financial strength. Delays for new parks, libraries, and even a new courthouse are also in the works.

Along with the money approved for schools, Wake County voters approved $45 million to build county libraries and $50 million for the purchase of open space.

"Open space has always been a priority and will continue to be a priority," said Sig Hutchinson an open space advocate. "But these are extraordinary times for everyone, including Wake County."

Wake County has already announced the delay of construction on a new courthouse. The completion date is now pushed to 2013.

If tax revenues will not support all the new building, county commissioners could raise property taxes to keep their projects on schedule. But in this flagging economy, commissioners are not talking about a tax increase.

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