Raleigh to Revisit Budget Cuts

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.