For now, Cobb’s libraries are safe from budget cuts closing their doors completely. The same cannot be said for Smyrna’s .
At Tuesday’s Cobb County Board of Commissioner’s meeting, an amended budget was passed to close the gap at more than $31 million for the rest of fiscal 2011, which runs through Sept. 30.
The revised budget, which passed by a 4-1 vote, will call for no tax increase, but does call for a 10 percent cut in county departments across the board and requires all county employees, including fire personnel, to take five furlough days.
There will be no libraries closed for now after Chairman Tim Lee late last week hinted that he would suggest that 13 of 17 county libraries, including the Vinings Library and the , shut their doors.
The boardroom was full Tuesday with an estimated standing room crowd of 300, a significant number of them wearing red paper hearts that read, "I love my library." Since it launched late Friday afternoon, the "Save Cobb Libraries" Facebook page has generated more than 3,000 "likes" and Lee said Tuesday the board has received more than 5,000 emails against closing the libraries.
The “Save Cobb Libraries” administrator posted on its site after the revised budget was approved Tuesday, “Thank you to everyone who wrote an email, attended the meeting, told someone about the proposed cuts, stood in protest, or participated in conversations about this issue. It will no doubt be an ongoing discussion, and hopefully you will remain engaged.’’
While none of the libraries will close, they will have to accommodate $422,000 in cuts that will likely result in further reductions in opening hours.
The news wasn’t so good for the Windy Hill Senior Center, which will be closed come May 1 when changes in the approved budget revision take effect.
A program specialist at the senior center deferred comment Tuesday to Kathy Lathem, Resource Development Coordinator of Cobb County Senior Services. A message left by Patch for Lathem seeking comment has not been returned.
When told last Friday that the senior center might close, Gailya Stephenson, a regular at the facility located at 1885 Roswell Street, told Patch, “I just think it’s a shame that this is where they feel like they need to cut their money.”
Commissioner Bob Ott said on Tuesday that the Windy Hill center's closing has been in the works because it's the least used of the centers. The Freeman Poole senior center in Smyrna will not close as had previously been suggested by Lee.
A senior day care center in Marietta will also be closed while the Mable House Amphitheater in Mableton will be utilized as a rental facility only.
And while the commissioners balked at a millage increase, the budget does shift some of the millage rate between the general fund and the fire and debt service funds. The budget will use $2.71 million in reserves from the general fund and $1.86 million in the fire fund.