I hate meetings. I have long lists of ways I prefer to spend my time. I find excuses to avoid meetings. That said, I plan to attend the November meeting on the FY2011 budget at George Mason Regional Library.
Why am I putting myself through something I hate? More than hating meetings, I love Libraries, Parks and Recreation. I think they constitute some of the best that County government has to offer. Last year, this part of the County Budget was in the neighborhood of 1% of the county budget. The schools were 52%. After the budget cuts were said and down the school percentage had grown to 54% and Libraries, Parks, and Recreation had shrunk.
As a percentage of their budget, Libraries lost 18% of their budget. This percentage was much bigger than many county agencies. Library hours were lost. Many staff positions were lost. The budget for acquiring materials was cut in half. The library system is already set up so that a new hire with a Master's Degree in Library Science can only get a part-time job. Think of that. No full time work with a Master's Degree.
This situation is wrong, wrong, wrong. It is getting worse, worse, worse. For the next fiscal year, the Library is being asked to take another 15% off their budget. It is going to be ugly.
Go to these meetings. Speak out for what you believe in.
Visit your library. Visit your parks. Visit your nature centers. Talk to the staff and then go to these meetings.