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Raleigh to Revisit Budget Cuts

BY Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
by Sarah Lindenfeld Hall on 6/4/03.

RALEIGH -- City Manager Russell Allen will take another look
at his proposed 2003-04 budget to see where the city could cut
programs and projects, likely equal to about the amount a
proposed solid-waste fee increase would raise.
The City Council on Tuesday unanimously asked Allen for the
report after a public hearing on the proposed budget that drew
about a dozen speakers, including some who questioned a
recommended spike in city fees.
Last month, Allen proposed a $ 380.3 million budget with no
change in the property tax rate. But faced with a bad economy, he
proposed raising the solid-waste fee from $ 60 a year per
household to $ 96 a year, the water rate 5 percent and the sewer
rate 9 percent. He also proposed a new stormwater utility fee.
Council member Kieran Shanahan originally suggested asking
each department to come up with across-the-board 5 percent cuts,
which would total about $ 19 million. But Allen said he'd rather
look at each department's budget to come up with possible cuts.
Council member James West said cuts should be tied to a specific
number, such as the amount increased fees would raise.
After Tuesday's meeting, Allen said he planned to target the
amount raised from the increase in the solid-waste fee, which
would likely generate about $ 3.3 million annually.
"I will ask each department to try to think about things that
they consider lower priority," Allen said.
Raleigh's public hearing Tuesday night was far different from
a similar hearing in Durham on Monday that drew hundreds to
complain about that city's proposed budget.
In Raleigh, state Rep. Russell Capps, a Raleigh Republican who
is president of the Wake County Taxpayers Association, and
Jonathan Hill, state director of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a
national antitax group, called on councilors not to raise taxes
or fees.
Others came to ask the city for more. Representatives of the
Burning Coal Theatre Co. lobbied for $ 200,000 in the next couple
of years to renovate an auditorium. Mary Freeman, CEO of the
Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities, asked for
$ 50,000 -- which is $ 32,000 more than recommended -- to help the
center continue services for children. And city police and
firefighters asked for better wages.