Protesting Cultural Cuts

November 11, 2010 Updated Nov 11, 2010 at 7:58 AM EDT

By Lou Chilelli

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November 11, 2010 Updated Nov 11, 2010 at 7:58 AM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The county budget process is in it's last few weeks. There are proposed cuts to cultural organizations, libraries and the comptrollers office. More then one hundred people turned out to protest county executive chris collin's 2011 proposed budget. Members of the arts community led a rally in front of county hall just before the legislature held budget hearings.

Randall Kramer is one of the leaders of the Greater Buffalo Cultural Alliance. He is worried that a loss of funding will mean the end of some of the agencies, "Some of these organizations have been funded for two decades. The county has invested for a long time in these organizations and to zero them out...you are crippling the organizations. It doesn't make any sense for that investment."

Local artist Mike Herbold says that he doesn't think cut to cultural groups makes fiscal sense, "Our county executive is supposed to be a business genius. but, apparently he can't count. The arts are a great multiplying force in the economy. For every dollar you spent...you get that money over and over and over...back to you."

Inside County Hall, a group looking to restore cuts made to the county library system took their turn at the legislature. Several are concerned about how children will be affected. Dan Dale of Lackawanna is thinks that deep cuts in hours and services will hurt school age children, "They count on the library for tutoring services...for books...videos...everything. Unfortunately, these kids come from poor families. They can't afford to supply computers and stuff to them."

Retired Buffalo teacher Eva Doyle is also worried about the area's youth, "I spent 30 years as a classroom teacher in Buffalo...telling my students to make the libraries their second home and encouraging them to develop themselves by attending plays and visiting museums. I consider all of these things a part of the development of our youth and our community."

Members of the county comptroller's office were on hand to ask legislators to stop the plan that calls for a 36 percent cut to their staff. Bob Farmer is one of those staff members who will lose his job, "The county executive's office received pay raises for vacant positions and a one hundred thousand dollar job creation. The comptrollers office which is responsible for scrutinizing every payment made by and to the county, will be decimated."

A statement issued by the county executive's office says that the budget proposal is the result of many factors that forced tough budgetary decisions.