Libraries Spared From Budget Ax

The City Council latched onto temporary funding from other sources, sparing the sweeping cuts to branch libraries and recreation centers on Tuesday.

Mayor Jerry Sanders had wanted approval to trim the city's budget by $43 million dollars between now and June 30. The City Council authorized cuts totaling $38 million, potentially setting up a showdown with Sanders over a veto next week.

Over the weekend, dozens of residents demonstrated in University City against the proposal to close their community branch.  They chanted, "L-I-B-R-A-R-Y, If you close it, I will cry."

Friends of the other six libraries -- and ten recreation centers which the Mayor sought to shut down -- have captured the attention of the media and, apparently, the sympathy of Council members.

They agreed to tap library building and improvement funds to put into the operations of the library branches, rec centers and the San Diego Fire Rescue Department to avoid daily "rolling brownouts" of two of the city's 60 truck and engine companies.

But there were warnings of more budget deficits and a growing need for residents to consider taxes for major expenditures such as curbside trash collection. 

"I mean, at some point the turnip's going to be squeezed.  And I think that's what we've been going through here -- the squeezing of the turnip," said City Councilman Jim Madaffer.  "And at some point in time, there won't be anything left.  And then, at the ballot box, folks are going to have to make some tough decisions."

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