Though Mayor Karl Dean hasn’t established a final budget-cut percentage, a worst-case scenario could result in reducing operating hours at most public libraries and closing a Metro Parks community center.
All Metro department heads are in the process of meeting with Dean to discuss the effect of a 7.5 percent cut on their budgets for the next fiscal year. Throughout the first three days of this week’s budget hearings, Dean has made clear, “No decisions have been made,” calling the gatherings a “step” to determine where Metro can find savings.
But if the Metro Public Library were to reduce its budget by the full 7.5 percent then the department would have to reduce hours at its five main branches –– Bordeaux, Madison, Green Hills, Edmondson Pike and Hermitage –– from 50 hours to 40 hours per week. In addition, smaller community libraries could be asked to reduce hours from 40 hours to 20 hour per week.
No cuts would be directed at the main downtown library.
“We know that they will do the best they can,” Public Library Director Donna Nicely said of the mayor’s office. “We’re hoping it’s not 7.5 percent because that’s a major reduction of hours for the public.”
Meanwhile, cuts of 7.5 percent to Metro Parks, as outlined by Interim Director Tommy Lynch, could mean closing the Sevier Park community center, reducing hours at Wave Country water park; reducing park maintenance; and eliminating administrative positions within the parks police department. In total, cuts would lay off 23 parks employees.
According to Lynch, Metro is already slated to tear down the Sevier Park community center and construct a new facility by 2012.
The parks department in December found itself facing a budget overage for the current fiscal year, financial struggles that led to the resignation of then-Director Roy Wilson.
Originally, the department was expected to ask the Finance department and Metro Council for a supplemental appropriation of $850,000 to make up the overshoot, but according to Lynch, the parks department is now seeking a much smaller figure.
Lynch said the supplemental appropriation request should be coming within the next two days. He declined to reveal how much money the department is seeking.