Leading from the Left

Friday, March 06, 2009

Lots of Potential Cuts

Ok, y'all are gonna be ticked off.

The Board of County Commissioners got our first look at a (partial) list of potential cuts to county government. The cuts are deep; the manager directed each department head to cut his/her departmental budget by 10%. The bottom line is the county is facing a possible 8.7 million dollar shortfall and cuts will have to be made if we stick to our pledge not to raise taxes this year. Here's a run-down of some of the proposed cuts.

The Library Services Director is recommending closing two libraries: the Carrboro Cybrary and Cedar Grove branch libraries. Yup, that's right. She's not suggesting cutting hours of operation, she's proposing that they be closed completely.

The Health Director wants to CLOSE the dental clinic at Carr Mill Mall in Carrboro. For some of our poor and working poor, this is the only access to dental care they have. Without this care, they will likely allow dental issues to linger and eventually cause even worse health issues.

The Emergency Management Director suggests eliminating Hep B vaccinations for our EMS workers. These vaccines protect our workers from exposure to bloodborn pathogens.

The Aging Director wants to cut hours at the Senior Center in Chapel Hill and wants to discontinue the Wheels for Work program which supplies donated cars to people looking for work.

The Social Service Director is proposing a whole bunch of cuts. One of the most disturbing to me is a fairly small allocation. She's recommending cutting $12,305 for covering incidental needs for children involved with Child Protective Services and "helps prevent removal of children from the home by providing items that might allow a child to remain safely at home or remain with relatives." This is one of those things that doesn't cost much money but can really make a difference in a child's life.

I hope y'all stay on top of what the proposed cuts are. We'll be cutting more proposals at a budget worksession later in March. It's not going to be a pretty picture, and we need to make sure the public is aware of what's being proposed.

In particular, I'm concerned about CLOSING two libraries. While I could possibly see reducing hours in a tight budget year, completely closing two branches is a draconian proposal that I simply can't support.