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The Wake County Manager’s trying to hold the line on spending – but he’s getting no sympathy from the School Board. He offered to increase the school’s budget more than any other local government agency – but the School Board told him to take a hike. That just won’t cut the mustard; it wants another $36 million and one Board member wasn’t bashful about telling him how to get it – cut the Sheriffs Department’s budget. “As a Raleigh resident,” Vice-Chairman Beverly Clark told The News and Observer, “I pay for that and pay for the Raleigh Police Department.” We don’t need both. Merge them. Then Raleigh can have ‘world class schools’ – and a third world Sheriff’s department.

When it comes to spending money the School Board is in a ‘world class’ all its own. Last year, after it got a spending increase it hustled the County Commissioners for an ‘emergency’ appropriation – $6 million more – to pay for an anticipated influx of new students. The students never showed up for class. But the board spent the money anyway.

The Board has a one-word response to any conversation about money: More. And the justification is always the same: Without it we won’t have ‘world class’ schools. ‘World class’ sounds great but in Wake County it means a lot more than educating students. ‘World Class’ schools must be racially diverse, so the School Board sets quotas and spends millions to bus students. ‘World class schools’ also have to be politically correct – so in Wake County we have regulations on ‘sensitivity’ – so no teacher repeats the mistake a teacher at Enloe made by offending the Muslim Anti-Defamation League or the ACLU. And ‘world class schools’ also have to wrestle with handling gay-sensitivity days sponsored by gay-rights groups. Maybe, the School Board ought to say the schools are not the place to solve society’s racial, religious and gender problems, jettison all the social engineering and go back to having one goal: Teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. At a minimum they’d have a better case when they say ‘More.’

While the School Board is dead-set on spending, in Raleigh the City Manager’s dead-set on taxes. The cost of everything from owning a home to taking a shower is about to get more expensive. The City Council just passed a whopping tax increase (called impact fees) on new homes and buildings which, last election, voters were told would ‘make growth pay for itself’ – in other words it would hold down property taxes. It didn’t work. The words, Tax passed, were barely out of Mayor Meeker’s mouth when Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen announced he also wants to raise property taxes 15% and water fees 15%. All the candidates promising to raise ‘impact fees’ on nasty developers – to hold down everyone else’s taxes – got elected. Now taxes on new homes are up. Taxes on old homes are proposed to go up. Water fees are proposed to go up. And the year’s only half-done.

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