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Too many budget cuts damage our county’s ‘product’

POSTED: June 7, 2011 1:00 a.m.

I was concerned by the article on the front page of The Times today that delineates potential cuts in county services if no additional revenue can be identified.

I certainly understand the need to close the gap in the budget, but question the wisdom of attempting to do so based solely on cutting "quality of life services," as some have characterized this plan.

Chairman Tom Oliver has proposed a modest increase in taxes, combined with fewer cuts in some services, as a way to accomplish the task. A yearly increase of $100 (less than $2 per week, which might buy one cup of coffee) would seem to be a bargain if it allowed us to maintain Hall's enviable quality of life. And quality of life is one of the prime reasons listed by businesses that choose to locate in a particular community.

If we are committed to attracting the kinds of responsible businesses to our community that will be good corporate citizens and provide good jobs, we should be improving quality of life rather than diminishing it. Having safe parks and recreational areas for exercise and the promotion of healthy lifestyles is especially important as we face the challenge of increasing rates of obesity, diabetes and other indicators of poor health status.

Our libraries provide opportunities for intellectual growth, affordable entertainment through reading books and utilizing audio and video resources, and access to computer services for those who may have no other source for these services. Closing neighborhood libraries (and the special needs library) does more than create a "longer drive." Two libraries can't handle the demands of six libraries, and therefore many residents will no longer have library access.

No one likes taxes, but the public services that we value are dependent on them. "Cutting out the fat first" is one of those things that sounds good if you say it real fast, but its success depends on there actually being significant enough "fat" and "waste" present to represent a real opportunity.

While there may always be a way to increase efficiency in any enterprise, there comes a time when further savings are minuscule without significantly damaging the product. Over the last few years it seems that there have been a number of cuts to the public infrastructure, in the name of efficiency.

I doubt seriously that we can continue to "cut our way to prosperity" without significantly damaging our "community product."

David Westfall
Gainesville



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