Residents against proposed library closures

June 1, 2009 7:50:29 PM PDT
Wake County leaders are getting an earful from people fighting to save human services and two libraries that are on the chopping block in next year's budget.Leaders held two public hearings on Monday giving residents a chance to be heard. Perhaps the most memorable request during the meetings came from a 9-year-old boy.

"I'm concerned about losing Athens Drive public library," said Liam Pongracz, a third grader at AB Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary. "It has been very important to me throughout my whole life. I went there for nine years. I went there since I was a baby."

Pongracz and others are trying save Athens Drive and Duraleigh libraries. The two are slated to close under Wake County's proposed budget for next year.

So some residents are proposing raising property taxes to save programs and positions. Pongracz says he also has a proposal.

"An idea that I have is to reduce the hours the library is open," Pongracz said. "That way it is a win, win. I get to keep walking to the library and you save money."

And some people say if the two libraries close that's two fewer places the unemployed can go to look for work. Organizations are even asking commissioners to keep non-profits in mind, as they're having to help more people with less money.

"Help us Wake County Commissioners," said Jennifer Lanane with Wake NCAE. "You are our only hope."

But county leaders say they have to cut more than $30 million from their nearly $1 billion dollar budget. They're cutting 100 vacant positions and letting 20 people go.

Residents are asking commissioners to reconsider, to find more ways to save money while saving services and the people who provide them.

There is a big ripple effect and commissioners have tough decisions to make before they vote on the final budget in two weeks.


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