Raleigh’s recently adopted $697 million budget was sharply criticized this afternoon by Wake County Republican Chairman Claude E. Pope, Jr.
In a speech before the Wake County Republican Women’s Club, Pope said the council’s budget was stuffed with unnecessary spending at a time when everyone, particularly governments, should be cutting back.
Pope criticized the council’s decision to not reduce funding for the arts, and also took a shot at City Manager Russell Allen for accepting a $10,000 raise.
Pope compared Raleigh’s budget, which increases spending by $53 million, unfavorably with Wake County’s budget, which reduced spending by $30 million.
Pope said the presence of three Republicans on the Wake Board of Commissioners showed that the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility.
“We applaud the efforts of the Wake County Board of Commissioners,” Pope said. “In contrast to the city, the county commissioners passed a budget that cut spending, showed compromise and fiscal restraint.”
Pope also criticized the City Council for adding $1.85 million in new spending by reducing the amount the city will put towards paying of existing and future debt.
“If you put off paying your mortgage for a year, you would no longer have a house to live in,” Pope said.
Pope praised Councilman Philip Isley, the only Republican on the 8-member Raleigh City Council and the only councilor who voted against the budget.
Pope said after his speech that he hadn’t spoken to Isley since the budget was adopted on Tuesday.
At least one of Pope's criticisms showed an unfamiliarity with Raleigh’s budget. Pope said the city should have cut inspectors since new building permits have dropped as the housing bubble has burst.
“Have any of these jobs been cut?” he asked.
The city’s adopted budget cuts 15 positions from the Inspections Department.
After his speech, Pope fielded questions from reporters. He said the City Council’s recent actions are an opportunity for Republicans to win back seats. City Council elections are officially nonpartisan, but the number of Republicans on the council has been shrinking in recent years.
Pope acknowledged that the GOP needs to field a stronger slate of candidates this fall.
“The Republican Party needs to do a better job fielding qualified candidates,” he said.
The filing deadline for this fall’s election is July 17.