RALEIGH — The County government faces an anticipated budget shortfall of nearly $18million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, the Wake County Board of Commissioners learned Friday.
The gap comes from an anticipated $8 million drop in funding and nearly $10 million in planned expenses, including about $3 million for 2percent merit and benefits increases for employees, county finance officials said.
The early take on a budget process that will last into June did not account for any new expense that could result from the revamping of the county school system by a new school board majority.
That possibility became a matter of dispute between board hairman Tony Gurley and board member Stan Norwalk. Norwalk claimed the school board's efforts to create a neighborhood-based system would cost $250 million.
"You're making things up," Gurley said, suggesting the system might save money by decreasing the amount of busing needed.
County departments have already proposed $16 million in cuts, including reducing ambulance service and hours at the Southeast Regional Library in Garner.
The news came at a two-day commission retreat at the Walnut Creek Wetlands Center, which was shortened into a one-day event due to the winter storm.
Former Chairman Harold Webb appeared at the retreat and stayed all day in his first in-person appearance at a commission event since his stroke last fall. Webb spoke little during the board discussions, but said afterward that he'll make a decision on whether to step down from the board in about two weeks.
Triangle Transit general manager David King made a presentation on the long-discussed mass transit plan for the Triangle, adding afterward that the project may get some assistance from the $545 million in federal rail improvement money for North Carolina announced this week as part of a federal stimulus package.
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