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"The library budget has been cut significantly. We've lost a lot of staff, and [the department] has taken an unfair portion of the cuts," said Gary Knight, president of Escondido's library board of trustees during the February 16 city council meeting.

Knight's comments are in response to a city proposal to close the East Valley branch library and recreation center as a way to fill next year's $2.9 million budget deficit.

In addition, the city also proposes slashing $1.1 million from employee pension benefits, $770,000 from the city's recreation department, $250,000 from the police department's budget, and $244,000 from the California Center for Performing Arts.

"None of these cuts are desirable, but the bottom line is we don't have the money. This is the edge," said Mayor Sam Abed. "If we don't balance the budget then we will never be able to restore any services in the future."

Councilmember Olga Diaz expressed concern about the cuts to library and recreation programs. She directed city staff to look into finding additional savings in the police department's $32 million-a-year budget.

"I don't want to sound stingy but $250,000 out of the police budget isn't going to make much of a dent in that department compared to the East Valley branch library and recreation giving up almost $400,000," said Diaz.

According to city staff, the proposed $250,000 cuts to the police department are less than one percent of their overall budget.

Added Diaz, "Library and recreation is the frontline for public safety.... [Library and recreation] should be considered part of public safety."

The Escondido city council is expected to decide on the proposed cuts during budget hearings in June.

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Comments

nostalgic Feb. 18, 2011 @ 2:51 p.m.

Libraries are always cut first. This is because library users are literate, and generate huge (expected) outbursts of complaints. And nobody notices that the consultants are still in for $$ Millions. That's the way it goes.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 21, 2011 @ 6:49 p.m.

At least that stooopid baseball stadium deal is done, with J Brown closing dowm all the redevelopment agencies!!!!!!

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emstersmom1 March 20, 2011 @ 4:28 p.m.

Why can Sam Abed approve over $92,000.00 for an impact study regarding the proposed ballpark, but couldn't give a darn regarding the cutting of funds for recreation and the library? Is he so totally unaware that those are two positive benefits the city of Escondido has for it's children? There are going to be situations where having a library and recreation activities keep a child from going in the wrong direction. Haven't the children of our community suffered enough?

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emstersmom1 March 20, 2011 @ 4:33 p.m.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention the millions he's willing to spend relocating the water district office? Maybe the old location near the actual source of water is good enough. Spend the money on public safety, schools, the library, recreation and road improvements. There are still so many traffic lights that have no left turn arrow and you see accidents or near accidents occur all the time. Just one of those things that make you go HMMMMM.

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emstersmom1 March 21, 2011 @ 7:54 a.m.

If that's not the truth. We keep digging a deeper and deeper whole for the city to climb out of financially. The citizens haven't got a clue. They keep electing the good ol' boys and girls. We needed fresh blood in office. Not someone who's into bloodletting.

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