Wake County Board of Commissioners

Photo: A voting ballot
Flickr Creative Commons/ Ken Zirkel

A federal judge in Raleigh is hearing arguments this week on a case that challenges the legality of new electoral maps for the Wake County boards of commissioners and education. While several lawsuits have challenged the constitutionality of districts drawn by the Republican-majority General Assembly since 2011, this one focuses on the maps in only one county.

A picture of a folded wad of cash.
401kcalculator.org / Flickr

Wake County Commissioners voted yesterday to raise the pay floor for county employees to $13.50 per-hour.

Governor McCrory's recommended budget
NC Office of State Budget and Management

Government employees across the state are working on budgets this month. Officials in rural towns, big cities and the Capitol are finalizing spending plans for the fiscal year beginning July 1st. But the process, speed and  public involvement required to craft a fiscal blueprint can vary significantly.

A couple of weeks ago, House lawmakers held a marathon floor session where they debated their budget proposal for more than eight hours. Toward the end of the debate, senior Republican budget writer Nelson Dollar rose from his seat to make a final pitch.

CAT Bus Route #4 Rex Hospital at a bus stop on Hillsborough Street in Downtown Raleigh.
Mywebsite1234000 / Wikipedia

Wake County has taken plans for a light rail system off the table, for now.

The county's Transit Advisory Committee voted this week on which plans to present for public comment.

Jason Horne of Raleigh is on the 50-plus member committee.

"We have a duty, I believe, to give the best bang for the buck to the tax payers who are investing in this. And the light rail is significantly more expensive for the benefit that you would get when we could get a lot of the same benefit at the much lower cost with bus rapid transit or rapid rail transit."

Photo: NC Legislative building
Jorge Valencia

A busy Tuesday at the General Assembly ended with mixed results for proposals on religion, taxes and redistricting.

A bill that could allow private businesses to refuse service to someone based on personal religious beliefs could stall in the House. 

Meanwhile, the House and Senate agreed to lower North Carolina's gas tax by 3.5 cents over the next year. And a House committee approved a measure that would redistrict Wake County's Board of Commissioners.

House Under Construction
Dave DeWitt

 Members of the Cary Town Council are calling on county officials to help address the issue of overcrowding in Wake County public schools.

Earlier this month, the council tabled a request to rezone about 58 acres in west Cary that would have created 130 new homes.

Some members say they don’t feel comfortable moving forward with the plan just yet – at least not while many of the nearby schools are at or above capacity.

The four Democratic winners pose with Congressman David Price
Reema Khrais

After sweeping all four open seats, Democrats now have full control of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

“It looks like we did it. The people of Wake County have chosen to move forward,” said John Burns, a business lawyer from Raleigh. He unseated Coble.

Democrats Matt Calabria, Sig Hutchinson, John Burns and Jessica Holmes each captured about 55 percent of the vote, defeating Commissioners Joe Bryant, Paul Coble, Phil Matthews and Rich Gianni.

A picture of an 'I Voted' sticker.
Vox Efx / Flickr

Four out of of seven seats on Wake County's Board of Commissioners are up for election. Republicans currently occupy those positions, but if just one of them loses, Democrats will have a majority on the board.

The Democratic and Republican candidates for the four seats up for election differentiate themselves mostly by ideology. The Republican incumbents are loath to raise taxes and are not openly supportive of a transit tax proposal. Their relationship with the county school board has been tense.

Wake County commissioners heard from health officials today on the county's readiness should an Ebola case be diagnosed here.  The leaders cited several calls of concern they've received from residents after the disease was discovered in a hospital patient in Texas. 

Wake County health experts say they are working with hospitals, universities and airport authorities to ensure the earliest warnings are given should a case appear in North Carolina.  

Brent Myers is the medical director for Wake County EMS.  He says the county's efforts are being replicated across the state.

Wake County
www.wakegov.com

Wake County is celebrating a major milestone this week. Latest numbers show the county will welcome its one millionth resident.

So, bring out the pulled pork and the craft beer!  If calculations from the Census Bureau and the Carolina Population Center are correct, Wake County will have one million residents by Friday.

Phil Matthews is Chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

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