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Even though the economy is in recovery, most government budgets for the new fiscal year required cutbacks to public services. It was no longer possible to try making ends meet with hiring freezes, deferred maintenance or moving funds from one department to another.
The alternative to reducing budgets is increasing tax revenues. Most people feel it isn't a good option during a recession and shaky recovery. Instead governments had to scrutinize their budgets for ways to reduce expenses with the least amount of pain for all residents.
The budget problems brought overgenerous government pensions and benefits to light and hopefully, reform. It also results in reduction in services provide to citizens. Here's a list of common cutbacks you might experience.
Since the recession started, libraries have been a resource for inexpensive to free CDs, DVDs, computers and of course, books. It is ironic that libraries across the country have been fighting for budget dollars when their services are experiencing high utilization.
A neighboring city to me has closed it's only branch location resulting in one library to serve over 140,000 people. Fortunately, my city council overruled the mayor's proposed budget cutback of library hours to 2-3 days of service a week.
Local, state and federal parks have all experienced budget cuts. Oklahoma has shut down seven state parks while California is slotted to close 70 state parks after already severely cutting back hours and services for 60 parks over the past two years.
The result will be increased costs when (and if) these parks are reopened for repairs as well as public safety concerns. Unsupervised parks will now become attractive to transients and those with criminal intent.
Detroit is planning to shut down 70 schools this year on top of 59 that were already closed last year. California issued over 19,000 pink slips to teachers this Spring and 30,000 last year.
Many of the teachers will keep their jobs due to turnover, retirements and reduced budget cuts. However, the number of kids in our school system is not being reduced by the same margin. The result could be larger classroom sizes, fewer classroom aides, fewer activities and/or supplies.
My local DMV office became much more crowded after the state instituted furlough days in 2009 to save money. All state offices were closed every other Friday. The impact was not only difficult for the employees who lost income, but the residents dealing with reduced access and busier locations on non-furlough days.
Other states and cities also instituted furlough days or reduced hours. This keeps people from being able to access services, pay bills and get help at their convenience. It can lead to lost productivity as workers have to take time off to handle business because evening hours were eliminated.
Have you experienced any cutbacks in public services?
Photo Credit: James Bowe