Last week for the web, Jasmine Gallup wrote in thorough terms about Raleigh’s projected budget shortfall.

Tommy Goldsmith, a former reporter for INDY Week and The News and Observer, sent Gallup the following letter via email:

… At various times I covered Raleigh City Council, Wake commission, Wake schools, and other stuff. Did similar jobs at the Tennessean in Nashville, where I live now.

You did a good job detailing the fine points of the money the city of Raleigh has available and why the budgeteers have a hard time making it stretch. 

However, now that I no longer cover city governments, I am seeing things from the point of view of just a regular guy who looks around and says: “Why isn’t there enough money? You can look around and see unbelievable sums being spent on new business and residential real estate. Developers are making out like bandits, often on projects that require public approval.” 

Raleigh, where I grew up and have lived about half my life, is famous at least in the circles where such things are compiled for being a glittering city and wonderful place to live.

But how can that be if the employees who provide services and keep the wheels of government spinning are being squeezed to the point they can’t afford to live in Raleigh? It’s no wonder that so many are quitting and so many positions are available.

You of course don’t have to consider a word I write. But I think it’d be worth looking at key revenue sources for specific places that could help fill these holes in the budget. Shouldn’t developers, especially those who need variances, pay for the general welfare as well as the effects of each new project? 

Raising sales taxes would be counterproductive for middle- to lower-income people. But how about increased property tax rates for people buying houses in the million-plus range?

I’d also look at other cities that do a better job providing a decent living for the people who do the work. Your sources who say employees don’t make enough to afford decent places to live and meet other needs are exactly
on target. 

Where is the glory for Raleigh in having the gleaming new business towers and multi-million-dollar homes financed by squeezing the lower-income people who do so much of the real work?

If you’re wondering, yes, I’m a grouchy old man …. But I hope there’s some value in my suggesting other ways of thinking about these issues.

Send your comments to

Support independent local journalism

Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.