Florida Quality of Life

As I wrote about a few months ago, the State Legislature of Florida decided to force reductions of county budgets across the state. Our own county has reduced their budget by 3% from previous year. This has caused a great deal of discussion about which departments are essential and which are quality of life. At present, we are facing a 10% reduction. Other Florida Libraries are facing similar circumstances. * “Charlotte(County budget workshop meeting set for Monday)”:http://www.sun-herald.com/Newsstory.cfm?pubdate=072907&story=tp6ew2.htm&folder=NewsArchive2 – Laura Kleiss Hoeft, director of the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources department, said the tax reform is forcing different programs to face problematic issues of charging people to use their facilities, including libraries, public pools and even Englewood’s new skate park. * “Duval(Budget Cuts Take Bite Out Of Library Hours)”:http://www.news4jax.com/news/13648236/detail.html – In response to the 2007-2008 budget cuts, the library will cut nearly $3 million by reducing services and programs. The most noticeable change will be library hours. All branch libraries will be closed on Sundays with the exception of the Main Library downtown. Four regional libraries, two on the east/south side and two on the north/west side, will remain open on Sundays during the school year. On Mondays, the regional branches will close, leaving only the Main Library open. The branch libraries will operate Tuesday through Saturday. The cut also includes a $500,000 reduction for new books and materials, like DVDs and CDs. * “Hillsborough(Hillsborough County announces 2008 budget cuts)”:http://www.tampabays10.com/news/local/article.aspx?storyid=59663 – Even the Director of Libraries in Hillsborough County plans to start his workday putting books back on the shelves. As part of proposed budget cuts, most of the employees who restock books now, called pages, would be eliminated. Seven new park projects and seven new library projects are also being shelved for now. The Director of Libraries says it means people without libraries in the University and Sulpher Springs areas, will have to keep waiting. But Joe Stines hopes library users won’t notice the change. * “Miami-Dade(Dade proposes lowest tax rate since 1983)”:http://www.miamiherald.com/416/story/180934.html – In his proposed budget, Mayor Carlos Alvarez called for opening seven new libraries already under construction but canceling plans for four others because the county cannot afford to staff and operate them. * “Sarasota(Cuts, at a cost)”:http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20070729/NEWS/707290525 – In Sarasota, libraries could be among the hardest-hit services. Director Sarabeth Kalajian proposed a $12.9 million library budget for 2008, but leaders have suggested a 7 percent cut. The cut could eliminate four positions and trim library hours from 4721/2 to 440 per week. The loss of hours, which could cut six to eight hours per week from the North Sarasota Library, would lead to a loss of some of the programs libraries offer, such as art workshops and computer classes. There is one glimmer of hope… * “St. Lucie(Nonprofits to see same funding levels from St. Lucie)”:http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2007/jul/24/nonprofits-see-same-funding-levels-st-lucie/ – Commissioners decided last week to find funding in the budget so libraries in the county aren’t shuttered one day a week to save cash. Commissioners also shifted $8,000 back to the library’s budget to keep the Bookmobile operating during the summer. However, if the legislature is successful in getting the proposed tax changes that they are looking for next year, this will all be minor.