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4/14/2009
County institutes more budget cuts in recreational programs & facilities - Delaforum.com

County officials are considering partly reversing the most publicly visible service cut so far and reopening some libraries on Thursday evenings and Sundays.

"[Having] the whole library system shut down on the same days is not beneficial," Anne Farley, general manager of the Department of Community Services, told a County Council budget hearing. But, she explained, changing that does not indicate any lessening of the proverbial 'pain' that residents will be expected to bear in light of the county's fiscal problems. On the contrary, her testimony at the hearing on Apr. 13 included an array of additional cuts planned in order to effect a 4.6% reduction in her department's spending plans for the coming fiscal year.

Not only will there be the same net reduction in library operating hours, but the allocation to buy new books and support for contractual libraries -- including Wilmington Institute facilities -- will both be slashed by 8%. Rockwood Museum will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and activity centers on Fridays. The county no longer will offer seniors transportation to medical appointments and will end the promotion of locally-grown farm produce. The 'sleep under the stars' and Christmas holiday open house will not be held. Not publishing seasonal program guides in the News-Journal newspaper will 'save' $100,000, Farley said.

Council members appeared resigned to the service cuts. In light of the expected 25% increase in the property-tax rate, "how do I sell sporting events, day care and camps?" Timothy Sheldon said.

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