Klamath County is facing a project budget shortfall of $1.8 million. The current idea on the table is to cut the budgets of every county department by 9%. While budget cuts are never a fun process, across the board cuts are the easiest way to deal with the problem — everyone feels the pain equally...
... that is if there isn't money somewhere else, hiding in plain sight.
The Klamath County Library's budget has increased from $1.5 million to an estimated $2.5 million during the past decade. This year the County Library is looking to expand its services by purchasing a building on the east end of town. One has to wonder in this age of the internet aren't libraries becoming less relevant not more so? If this premise is true, why are we investing more funds in a resource, libraries, that is less relevant while starving a resource, such as public safety, that is always important? Libraries are fun places to visit, but are they as vital as properly funding public safety?
Good budgeting is not about spreading pain equally. Good budgeting is about prioritizing and making tough choices. Those tasks that are critical continue to get the funding needed. Those tasks with less of a priority get cut proportionally.
While the Sheriff's department struggles to keep two jail pods open, the County Library will be purchasing a building, filling it with new books, magazines, videos and computers and then hiring additional staff to manage it. This seems a bit bass-ackwards. Wouldn't a better idea be to have the County Library forgo its expansion plans and give the Sheriff's department $500,000 so we can at least keep a second jail pod open?
Because the way its going now, you'll have plenty of libraries to choose from in order to research what happens when criminals are not in jail but in your neighborhood.