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May 18
Wake Presents $1.13 Billion Recommended Budget

Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann presented the County's $1.13 billion fiscal year (FY) 2016 recommended budget, an increase of $67 million over the FY2015 budget, to the Board of Commissioners during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday, May 18, 2015.

A key component of the budget is a 2.9-cent property tax increase, which will generate $36.5 million in new revenue to meet the growing needs of our population of more than one million people. The new property tax rate will increase from 57.8 cents in FY15 to 60.7 cents in FY16. Property owners will see an average increase of $77 per year on a home valued at $266,000.

"Although we've become more efficient in some areas, our gains in efficiency are not keeping pace with the rising demand for service," said Hartmann. "We have to find opportunities to do more without further decreasing our expenditures, while, at the same time, being measured in our funding increases."

The FY2016 recommended budget includes significant expansions for education. The Wake County Public School System will receive about half of the new revenue, $34.6 million, to fund operating expenses. This represents the largest increase that WCPSS has ever received from the County in a single year. Wake Technical Community College, the state's largest community college, will receive $2.9 million in additional funds to support start-up costs and operating expenses for new facilities.

"A quality education system and an educated workforce are two of our most important economic development tools. They're important for all of North Carolina, not just Wake County," said Hartmann. "As I promised last year, I'm committed to working with Superintendent James Merrill to develop a long-term funding plan to support the school system's strategic initiatives for improving student achievement."

Other highlights of the recommended budget include:

Public Safety

  • Emergency Medical Services will receive approximately $2.6 million in new funding to convert crews from 24-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts. The change will allow EMS to better manage peak service times, increase its availability and improve response times for our expanding community.
  • The Wake County Sheriff's Office will receive $1.4 million in additional funds and 15 new positions in this budget. The majority of the money will go towards hiring a Health Services Administrator, six detention officers and six nurses to work at the jail to better serve the growing number of inmates with mental health and substance abuse problems.
  • The City-County Bureau of Identification will receive $162,000 in additional funding and two new positions, one for a latent print examiner. The examiner will help decrease a mounting case backlog and help catch criminals by successfully identifying finger, hand and foot prints from crime scenes.

Human Services

  • Human Services will receive $2.5 million in additional funding and new positions for 25 full- and part-time employees.
  • The department will extend maternity clinic hours at the Sunnybrook Clinic and add a new maternity clinic at the Millbrook location. Together, they will serve 1,250 more expectant mothers a year by reducing wait times to see a health care provider, which is particularly important during the first trimester.
  • Ten new school nurses will be hired to care for children in more than 20 County schools. The additional staff will help further reduce the nurse-to-student ratio, enabling more children to get timely access to health care.

Community Services

  • This budget allocates $2 million in additional funding and 19 new positions to our library system to open the Northeast Regional Library in FY2016, and partially restoring funding for library books. These library initiatives were impacted during the recession.

Environmental Services

  • The recommended budget provides $528,000 in additional funding to Environmental Services. It will pay for three new restaurant inspector positions, which are needed to meet new state productivity rules and conduct nearly 1,500 more inspections each year within the growing business community. This investment will also fund a new position at the call center to respond more efficiently to the public's needs.

Board of Elections

  • An additional investment of $2.6 million is provided in this budget to ensure the Board of Elections can meet several new state statutes. One requires the County to hold a Presidential Preference Primary in 2016 as a standalone election, while another changes the length of time in which early voting is allowed for elections in 2016. The additional funding will enable the Board of Elections to purchase the equipment, pay the staff and increase the number of early voting locations to comply with these mandates.

The remaining departments will receive $1.3 million in additional funding and eight positions. The recommended budget also provides $2.3 million in funding for several external organizations, including increases for the Healing Place, the Chamber of Commerce's Economic Development Office, United Arts and Smart Start.

The Board of Commissioners took no formal action on the budget Monday other than to accept it for review.

"In his budget briefing today, the county manager clearly explained why he recommends increasing funding and adding positions in specific areas to meet the growing needs of our growing population," said Board chairman Dr. James West. "I urge citizens to read the materials and attend the public hearings. Before I make any decisions on this budget, I want to hear from the people I represent."

The County will hold public hearings and a Board of Commissioners' work session prior to the board's adoption of the budget.

Public Hearings

Work Session

Board Consideration and Formal Action

Copies of the budget, a video of the County Manager's presentation and other related materials are available on the FY2016 Recommended Budget page. The public is invited to give feedback about the budget at one of the two public hearings or by submitting comments via the website.


 



 

 

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