FY2018 Recommended Budget Message from the County Manager

This afternoon, I presented to the Board of Commissioners my recommended budget​ for Fiscal Year 2018, which runs from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018. After months of effort and analysis by staff in all county departments, I recommended the board consider a General Fund operating budget of $1.26 billion. This recommended budget requires a 1.45-cent property tax increase for a total proposed rate of 61.5 cents.

The recommended budget will allow us to:

  • Respond to workload demands for quality county services;
  • Attract, retain and equip a highly-skilled workforce;
  • Leverage partnerships to achieve social and economic vitality; and
  • Continue our strong investment in education.

Growth Continues to Drive Our Needs
Wake County is the nation’s second fastest growing county of more than 1 million people, and growth continues to be the biggest factor driving our needs. Our existing revenue, while growing, is just not enough to address the rapidly increasing demands on the services we are required to provide and those the community expects us to provide. Because the county’s needs exceed our revenues, we had to make tough decisions when determining how to budget our limited dollars most effectively.

The Budget Decision-Making Process
To start, we closely examined our base budget to identify areas where we could save money by streamlining our processes or better utilizing existing resources. We then considered $80 million in expansion requests from our county departments, our external partners and the education sector. The total value of the base budget plus these requests exceeded our available revenue by $62 million.

We evaluated each request to identify those that best aligned with the board goals and ensure we funded needs in areas the board has identified as priorities. Every decision we made was based on what is best for the organization, and many of the items included in this budget support internal changes that will ultimately improve our external services.

Investing in our Employees
I continue to be inspired by this incredible team and your dedication to serving our community. Through your efforts each day, you make a difference in the lives of those who live, work and play in Wake County. I remain committed to identifying ways to take our performance to the next level and do what we do even better, and this budget includes recommendations that will make that possible.

Last year, we made significant pay band adjustments to remain competitive with benchmark local governments and private sector employers. I recommend we continue that effort this year in areas where we are not in alignment with the marketplace, such as in the Sheriff’s Office. I also propose we invest $5.6 million to provide an average 3% performance pay to staff and invest an additional $4.5 million in employee health insurance.

Next Steps
The board will now evaluate the recommended budget and receive public input before considering adoption of the budget on June 19. Over the coming weeks, I encourage you to learn more about the recommended budget by visiting wakegov.com/budget.

I am appreciative of the hard work and careful consideration that so many of you put into this recommended budget. I am confident that the result is a sound budget that is well aligned with the board’s strategic goals and demonstrates a measured approach to spending the county’s limited tax dollars. This budget will enhance the organization’s ability to meet our growing internal and external needs, both now and in the face of increased demand in the future.

Jim Hartmann