Priorities ignored

June 24, 2009 

At its June 15 meeting to determine the 2009-10 budget, the Wake Board of Commissioners rejected by a 4-3 vote my motion to reprioritize the proposed county manager's budget. By selected cuts in construction spending and operations, the $5.6 million cut from the previous year in the Human Services budget would be restored.

Consider this excerpt from the May 29 N&O: "At 1 a.m. Wednesday, there were 11 people in Wake's crisis center awaiting involuntary commitment to a mental hospital, but there was nowhere to send them. ... The clients waiting included psychotic and suicidal adults, as well as adolescents. One individual need to be restrained in handcuffs. Though extra police officers were called in to help, administrators determined that it wouldn't be safe to let more patients into the building."

The $5.6 million for restoring the cut in the Human Services budget could have been used to pay for more beds at a local psychiatric hospital and prevent a repetition of this event.

I am outraged that at no point in the budget discussion did the commissioners board come to grips with prioritizing both the operating and construction budgets. Think about whether those turned away by Wake County had been your children, your friends or your family.

Stan Norwalk

Wake County Commissioner


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