SD City Council Vows to Protect Libraries and Recreation Centers from Cuts

City News Service

San Diego City Council members have vowed to keep local libraries and recreation centers from painful budget cuts, and outlined a plan to maintain the facilities' hours and employees.

Never before has a City Council taken such a hands-on approach to solve budget problems,'' council President Tony Young told reporters.

Young and several council colleagues spoke out in response to a proposal by Mayor Jerry Sanders to cut library and recreation center service hours in half to save money and eliminate positions.

In La Jolla, hours at La Jolla Rec Center had been proposed to be halved from 40 to 20, with  a cap of 6 hours placed by the city on the community "buying back" hours for the center. The Florence Riford Library's hours were proposed to be cut by the same amount, with a plan to have libraries in nearby communities open on alternate days cushioning the blow and preserving library access for patrons at the cost of extended travel time.

City council members said they would not approve a budget for the upcoming year that cuts funds to those programs.

We're sending a strong message that the budget we want to provide the mayor for the upcoming fiscal year will include restored hours to our city's cherished libraries and beloved rec centers,'' Young said.

The council must come up with more than $10 million to maintain San Diego libraries and recreation centers current operating hours.

Young and colleagues Todd Gloria, Lorie Zapf and David Alvarez outlined a 10-point plan to keep libraries and recreation centers off the chopping block by tapping into nearly $13.5 million in options presented in March by the city's independent budget analyst.

The council will continue to look for new, innovative out-of-the-box

ways to do business at city hall,'' Zapf said. As a team we can find

solutions and work through this.''

The plan includes eliminating cell phones and reducing training and

overtime pay for non-public safety department workers.

The council proposed increasing revenue up to $500,000 from marketing partnerships that would include advertising on city-owned trash cans and lifeguard stations, and cutting supply and copy expenses.

The council members want to increase the expected revenue for the 2012 fiscal year by $3 million to reflect growth in sales and hotel room taxes.

The council also planned to use money from the sale of a downtown

building and will reduce workers' compensation funding to raise the $10.3 million needed to restore funding to libraries and recreation centers.

Young said support from one more council member is needed for passage of  the plan.



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