Budget cuts could impact community centers, libraries

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 8:54pm

Three neighborhood community centers could close their doors, and public libraries may reduce hours under potential cuts to Metro’s budget for the next fiscal year.

Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling has asked Metro department heads to analyze the effect of 3 percent cuts to their budgets. Directors have been sitting down with Mayor Karl Dean and his administration this week in preparation for a proposed Metro government budget, to come later this spring, for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The budget for the current fiscal year is $1.52 billion.

Tommy Lynch, director of the Metro Parks and Recreation Department, said Wednesday a full 3 percent cut would require his department to close East Nashville’s Cleveland Park Community Center, the West Park Community Center off Morrow Road and a still-to-be determined center. He said the third would likely be a small neighborhood center, perhaps near the Coleman Regional Community Center.

Lynch said the West Park center is located in the city’s least used park, adding the city had already identified the center to close so that it could be used in a different fashion. 

With the possible closure of the Cleveland Park center, Lynch said the plan would be to move its workers to the nearby McFerrin regional community center “so that we can enhance the programs.” He said the scenario wouldn’t call for layoffs.

Donna Nicely, director of the Nashville Public Library, said the department’s area libraries –– the largest libraries including Green Hills, Hermitage and Madison –– would decrease from 50 hours of operation per week to 40 hours by eliminating Sunday hours. The downtown library would remain operating on Sunday.

“For us, when we’re talking about a 3 percent cut, we would have to reduce staff, and if we reduce staff, we’d have to reduce the hours of libraries,” Nicely said. “That’s just the way it has to be.”

Nicely said she would like to ensure there’s at least one library in each geographical area of the county open Monday through Thursday during the evening hours. Additional staffing costs for the next budget are required to open the new Goodlettsville Library.

Of the possible library cuts, Dean stressed, “Those aren’t proposed reductions. Where we end up, we don’t know yet.”

During the budget cycle, cuts in various departments are frequently discussed but typically not implemented to their full extent. Last year, Riebeling had Metro departments look at a potential 7.5 percent budget cut, but reductions were nowhere near that figure.

Dean’s and the Metro Council’s decision last year to restructure the city’s debt has freed up funds in the short term, perhaps meaning a full 3 percent cut won’t occur for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

It’s been an eventful year for both the public parks and libraries. The parks department has completed a new Centennial Park Master Plan and is overseeing the renovation of Rose Park through a partnership with Belmont University. A new McCabe Community Center near Sylvan Park is slated to open this summer, and construction on a new center at Sevier Park will begin soon.

Meanwhile, Nicely said statistics suggest library usage has increased this year. Along with the opening of the Goodlettsville Library, the department has also launched its Limitless Library program, which gives Metro students access to public library books from their schools. She said 46 percent of Metro students have library cards.

Of note, Nicely said previous plans to build a new Bellevue library at the Bellevue Center mall are no longer on the table. She said her department is reviewing other sites for a new Bellevue library.     

18 Comments on this post:

By: courier37027 on 3/30/11 at 6:59

Hold on one minute. I thought the Titans moving to town would end this city's economic woes. The Predators were considered manna from Heaven above. The new convention center would put this city into financial black. Where are all these so-called economic analysts who predicted financial success and revitalization?

By: lusksavage on 3/30/11 at 8:52

Einstein 62
I noticed it hasn't affected the Warner Park area, or it's golf course.

By: govskeptic on 3/31/11 at 4:17

So a few community centers close early or the libraries. After ramping up
government spending with Federal Stimulus dollars for a yr or so, the
taxpayers are now being called up on to continue that same level of
spending. The greed to receive those dollars always comes back to
bite us just as is happening here and state wide!

By: gdiafante on 3/31/11 at 5:56

Courier, you're either woefully ill-informed are completely stupid. No one ever said that professional sports would support the city in a recession.

Then again, Tuesday, 45K people were downtown for a soccer match and Preds game...what else would bring that many downtown...a revival? lol

By: Blanketnazi2 on 3/31/11 at 6:00

Warner Parks also received quite a bit of private funding from individuals.

By: 4gold on 3/31/11 at 6:35

People pay cash to play golf. A lot of it at Warner. People spend money to see Preds and Titans. Granted all the Titan money ends up in Houston. But no one pays a dime to sit in the corner and read a book. Gees I gonna miss that! And as far as I am concerned they can close all the community centers that amounts to free baby sitting for lazy mothers home on the couch running their mouth on a cell phone.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!

By: LizzyD on 3/31/11 at 6:58

4gold: "And as far as I am concerned they can close all the community centers that amounts to free baby sitting for lazy mothers home on the couch running their mouth on a cell phone."

Wow, what a nasty person you must be! Kick many dogs lately? You make me wish I believed in Hell! Then again, perhaps yours is right here on Earth. I hope you get better. For your sake and all the rest of us, too. (and for all the children and dogs).

By: Community-carl-... on 3/31/11 at 7:48

It's vintage Karl Dean: Reduced services for Nashville citizens while he is grasping at the national limelight with over-zealous efforts to attract corporate tourists with the unnecessary convention center, which will ultimately dilute/damage the profitability of existing venues in our city. Nashville citizens will rue the day we elected Karl Dean when anticipated tourist revenue dollars fail to materialize and our property taxes are raised to augment the metro General Fund which is pledged as collateral for construction bonds issued to finance the new convention center.

Basically, Dean is sacrificing services for Nashville citizens in favor of outsiders.
Bluntly, we are screwed, especially if he is re-elected.

Hopefully, Dean won't be re-elected, and his successor can better focus on local needs and services while attempting to compensate for the damage Dean has done.......

By: girliegirl on 3/31/11 at 8:08

I always considered "tourist-generated/projected-revenues" to be a gamble/risk in the first place. I just figured Dean had a crystal ball for that one. "I can see your future...yada yada yada...."

By: fishfry on 3/31/11 at 8:15

It the same old song and dance. They begin a project or projects with proposed/ supposed funding and then try to tax us to death to keep it going when the funds run out. When are people going to learn there is no free lunch. And here are seniors, without a COLA in 3 years, while prices for everything from soup to gas has gone up. How are they even going to get to the community centers with no increase in living expenses and gas going through the roof and taxes out of control. Irresponsible politics has become a heavy burden for all of us, whether we realize it or not.

By: Community-carl-... on 3/31/11 at 8:19

I believe the financial predictions by Karl Dean and Rich Reibeling RE: the new convention center have as much credibility as the predictions by the psychic, Madam X , on lower Dickerson Rd.

By: girliegirl on 3/31/11 at 8:37

I think Rich has a better idea of how money works than just about anyone else, but "tourism" is a bigger gamble than even Vegas Strip can offer. (just sayin')

By: girliegirl on 3/31/11 at 8:37

I think Rich has a better idea of how money works than just about anyone else, but "tourism" is a bigger gamble than even Vegas Strip can offer. (just sayin')

By: courier37027 on 3/31/11 at 10:11

From gdiafante, "Courier, you're either woefully ill-informed are (sic) completely stupid." Ah yes, the either/are statement. Gdia, return when you are both informed and literate.

By: Ingleweird on 3/31/11 at 10:16

Screw the seniors and screw their COLA. I, too, have paid into Social Security, and I don't expect to see a dime when I reach "retirement" age. Some of you jaded older people must have been living in this fantasy world where inflation and the price of oil would never increase. Maybe, you should have saved more during your prime years or paid more $$ into SS to account for inflation. Oh, it's the government's fault? Too bad, because essentially the government IS you! Government is a reflection of US. It's not some abstract enemy that you are either with or against. What do you have against the new convention center and Karl Dean? This project was in planning for at least 10 years prior to Dean' administration. It was going to happen eventually, and you are all bitter that your good ole' nepotism boy didn't get elected. Waaah! Besides, why should you care; you will probably be dead by the 30-year time span it will take to prove your "risky investment" claims true or false. 30 years is a long time to hold a grudge on this project. The CVB has already met 50% of their room nights goal based on MCC usage.

Back to the article in question, the MCC project's budget has NOTHING TO DO WITH this year's budget for libraries and community centers. The former is a LOAN, while the latter comes directly from the GENERAL FUND (property and sales taxes collected from the past year). People are spending less, and the result is that the city has less money to spend, and that has nothing to do PRESENTLY with the MCC project. We can't force people to contribute more sales tax; the alternative is to raise property taxes, and Dean cannot politically afford to suggest that (at least not until AFTER he is re-elected, and he WILL be re-elected, EASILY (and if you think Michael Craddock will defeat Dean, you got another thing coming)).

By: Trumpetman on 3/31/11 at 11:34

So what ever happen to the library and communtiy center that was soposed to had been built in the J.C. Penny's building at Hickory Hollow? Is that another flop by Dean? So again the Southeast/Antioch area will be left with little to nothing. I was looking on another site and it said that the Southeast branch library would be one of the ones closed on Sundays now. That library is way too small for the population in the area. The Antioch community center still has not opened from last years May flood, don't know when its going to open, even if it will. I'm like they don't want this area to have any thing at all.

By: richgoose on 3/31/11 at 3:55

I would think that closing all of the Community Centers and all of the Libraries would be a great idea. I mean all of them. In fact I would think that you could cut 25% out of the budget without affecting me. Most of the budget except for fire and police and garbage and water are perhaps superflous to my life.

By: yucchhii on 4/2/11 at 2:17

How many times do I have to tell you all that mayor karl DINK is a LIAR AND A THIEF? Yeah, cutting budgets for all the IMPORTANT things so he can pay for his little baby called "THE NEW MUSIC CITY CONVENTION CENTER!" You know, the convention center that NOBODY wants! Also the 800 room omni hotel that he plans to have near the NEW convention center. Then of course don't forget the Baseball stadium they're talking about for the NASHVILLE SOUNDS! Well, WHEN ARE YOU ALL GOING TO WAKE UP AND SMELL YOUR $$$ GOING DOWN THE DRAIN??? BUT, they don't have the $$$$ for the schools, the roads anything else that's "IMPORTANT!"