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Wake County News > Posts > Ellis Recommends $1.46 Billion Budget for Fiscal Year 2021 to Board
May 18
Ellis Recommends $1.46 Billion Budget for Fiscal Year 2021 to Board

Includes no property tax increase, funds core county functions

Wake County Manager David Ellis presented his Fiscal Year 2021 Recommended Budget to the Wake County Board of Commissioners today. The $1.46 billion proposal does not include a property tax increase, and it continues to fund the county’s core functions and essential services that the community counts on.

“COVID-19 has drastically changed our revenue picture, leaving us with a gap of nearly $29 million in FY2021,” Ellis said. “To bridge that gap, I recommend eliminating more than 100 positions across the county, delaying capital investments, and cutting back on contractual services and professional development for our employees.”

The $1.46 billion proposal represents a 1% decrease from the FY20 adopted budget. The county estimates that COVID-19 will impact its key revenue sources in the following ways:

  • Property tax – Slower growth of vehicle sales is expected. Lower collections are anticipated on property tax bills.

  • Development-related revenues – In April, new permit applications were down 14%, and real estate transactions were down 12%. These trends result in a $4.5 million reduction in our projections for FY21.

  • Sales tax – In April, consumer spending was down almost 22% compared to last year. The decline in sales is expected to continue into the first few quarters of FY21, resulting in a projected sales tax reduction of nearly $42 million – a significant impact.

Proposed cuts

Due to the economic downturn, Manager Ellis’ proposal includes cuts like the ones identified below to create a balanced budget for FY21 while still maintaining core services:

  • Removing two 12-hour ambulances and scaling back our successful EMT-to-paramedic education program, which provides a valuable workforce pipeline to help fill difficult-to-recruit paramedic positions;

  • Opening all Wake County Public Libraries one hour later and closing them one hour earlier, which will eliminate 32 positions and impact programming for children and adults;

  • Reducing part-time and temporary staffing at the Wake County Animal Center, which may require altering its public hours of operation; and

  • Eliminating performance pay increases for county employees.

Highlighting the positive

Despite the financial impacts of COVID-19, the FY21 Recommended Budget found ways to avoid cuts in areas of critical importance that benefit our community. They include:

  • Preserving funding to support our Child Welfare and Public Health teams, as well as Food and Nutrition Services, which has seen a 48% increase in applications between March and April because of COVID-19;

  • Adding social workers to support Wake Prevent!, the county’s homelessness prevention program, and adding staff at the South Wilmington Street Shelter to improve emergency sheltering and provide more one-on-one assistance;

  • Maintaining the historic $515.96 million investment the board made in the Wake County Public School System for operating expenses in the FY20 adopted budget;

  • Continuing the county’s $25 million appropriation for Wake Technical Community College and our nearly $1.7 million investment in Wake County Smart Start in FY20;

  • Preserving $7.9 million for the Wake County Board of Elections to conduct open and fair elections. This funding includes $2.9 million for an anticipated 20 early voting sites;

  • Implementing the Next Generation 911 platform, which will improve the public’s ability to reach emergency services regardless of where they are or what communications technology they’re using; and

  • Funding a new electronic health records system for the Detention Medical Unit to improve coordination of medical care for inmates in our jail.

Proposed tax and fee increases

The FY21 Recommended Budget also proposes a tax rate increase of .76 cents to the Fire Tax District. The additional funds would be used to replace essential equipment and create a reserve for future fire station construction. The rate increase would bring the total Fire Tax District rate to 9.10 cents. The proposed budget also includes:

  • Increasing the annual permit fee for swimming pools – which hasn’t been raised in 17 years – from $275 to $300 for this essential public health service; and

  • Increasing the fee for civil fingerprinting services – which hasn’t been raised in more than 20 years – from $15 to $30.

Next steps

From May 21 to June 2 at 5 p.m., the public can submit comments specifically about the budget proposal via a special collection form on our website at wakegov.com/budget. The board will consider them leading up to June 15 when the commissioners will vote on the proposed budget.

Fiscal Year 2021 runs from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. For more information on the recommended budget, visit wakegov.com/budget.


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