Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Board to vote on funding cuts for library, parks.

Board to vote on funding cuts for library, parks.

Cabell County Organizations Face Uncertain Future with Possible Funding Cuts

The Cabell County Library and the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District are preparing themselves for potential funding cuts as the Cabell County School Excess Levy, which currently provides financial support to both organizations, is under scrutiny. This decision poses a significant challenge for these institutions, as they have come to rely on this funding to sustain their operations.

Ryan Saxe, Superintendent of Cabell County Schools, acknowledged the difficulty of this situation, stating, “It’s a challenging decision, but it’s one that we’re going to have to make,” as they strive to present the most comprehensive levy possible to the voters in order to improve the Cabell County School System.

In its current form, the school excess levy grants the Cabell County Public Library approximately $1.7 million annually, contributing to their overall budget of $4 million. However, under the proposed levy, this funding would be reduced to a mere $195,000. Kristy Browning, the library’s business manager, expressed deep concern over this significant cut, warning that it would severely impact their ability to operate their eight branches effectively. She emphasized that the library has relied on this consistent funding for the past 50 years and emphasized, “If this went through, we would see library closures, staff reductions, it would be catastrophic for the county.”

Similarly, the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District would experience a complete elimination of their current funding, which amounts to $550,000. Kathy McKenna, executive director of the district, described the potential consequences of such a cut, noting, “It made me sick to just think of what that impact would have on our budget and where we would have to start looking at making cuts and how we would go about replacing that funding.”

The financial pressure faced by the Cabell County School System is further exacerbated by inflationary costs and decreased state funding due to low enrollment. As a result, other areas of funding, such as outdoor learning spaces, facility maintenance, and employee salaries, have already been reduced. Saxe acknowledged that meeting the maximum amount requested by the library and park district would require further reductions in staffing and resources within the school district, an undoubtedly difficult decision for the school board to make.

The Board of Education is scheduled to convene on Tuesday to vote on the excess levy budget. If approved, the public will have the opportunity to vote on it in May. However, McKenna hinted at the possibility of legal action, stating that they may sue the board if the cuts are implemented. She argued that this funding is owed to the organizations, as it was legislatively established in 1983, and they have consistently received these funds without question.

In response to these unsettling developments, all locations of the Cabell County Public Library will be closed on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m., allowing staff members to attend the board meeting and voice their concerns. As these organizations face an uncertain future, it is crucial to recognize the immense impact they have on the community. The potential closure of libraries and reductions in recreational resources would undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for the residents of Cabell County.

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