Over the last few weeks, we have received increasingly urgent reports from various County operations, worried about the Commission’s action on this year’s budget. They have been trying to make sense of the massive cuts the Commission has proposed and how these cuts could hurt our community.
I believe we have to tighten our belt in County government and have always said as much.
However, I’ve also said we have to work to preserve vital programs and avoid layoffs at a time when our economy is contracting.
Unfortunately, so far, the Commission has taken a buzz saw to the County’s budget, cutting vital programs, and putting jobs at risk. They have even slashed $65 million that was in the County’s five-year plan to build a new high school in Frayser and begin to really invest in crumbling schools. I’ve written in the past about some of the vital programs that could be eliminated if the Commission doesn’t rethink some of these decisions, see here and here.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any good news today.
Based on the most recent reports from the various departments, if the Commission’s massive budget cuts stand, here’s what is most likely to happen next.
There will likely be layoffs or the elimination of needed positions in various county offices, including Homeland Security, the Health Department, Juvenile Court, the Office of the Public Defender, Finance, Human Resources, County Attorney, Information Technology Services, and our Low-Income Commodities Food Program, among others.
Additionally, vital programs will be eliminated including, among others, community health clinics (all closed), domestic violence program at Family Safety Center (eliminated), community gardens program (eliminated), Orgill Golf Course and Park (hours reduced), alternatives to adult detention such as GPS ankle bracelets (eliminated), sexual assault nurses (eliminated), and Gideon’s Promise training for public defenders (eliminated).
We will keep you posted as this budget process plays out. Furthermore, we will continue to offer reasonable solutions to this year’s budget challenges. The point is this: unless there is a change of heart, vital programs will likely be eliminated and dozens and dozens of Shelby County employees could see their jobs vanish. This is the wrong approach and I will do whatever I can to stop this from happening.
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