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Paso Robles recreation, library services could face cuts

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Posted at 7:06 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 23:19:34-04

The Paso Robles Recreation Department as well as Library Services could be cut as a result of a budget shortfall.

During next Tuesday's meeting, the Paso Robles City Council is set to discuss the budget, and that could mean cuts to dozens of programs like aquatics, youth sports, and even concerts in the park.

The City of Paso Robles says it's working to make up revenue losses caused by the pandemic.

"We directed staff at our last council meeting to go back again and see what the impacts of cutting another $1.5 million and $2.5 million from the operating budget would mean," said Mayor Steve Martin.

This means the recreation department and the library could be next to go.

"To deem parks and recreation as non-essential is absolutely ludicrous," said Stacia Finley, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board Chairman.

Last year, approximately 8,000 youths were registered for recreation programs.

The city collaborates with more than 40 instructors and business owners who provided more than 5,000 classes during the 2018-19 fiscal year.

David Rogers of Shorin-Ryu Karate has been teaching karate with the city for the last 15 years.

"We need all types of activities and outlets for our mental health. You know, mind, body, and spirit," Rogers said.

Vanessa Orr is a yoga instructor with Paso Rec. Services. She's also the Owner of Yaya Yoga Ca.

Her two-year-old and almost five-year-old also take part in the programs that are now in jeopardy.

"We have taken a lot of the Cali kid fitness classes and those are something really fun to look forward to. It would just be such a bummer to miss out on all those fun activities," Orr explained.

The Senior Center is also on the line.

"If we can't generate more income then don't just say that the non-essentials can just be thrown away because these seniors cannot be overlooked," said Doris Lance, Senior Center instructor.

"The city's general fund budget for this year is $46 million. Of that, only $1.1 million is earmarked for recreation services and $1.25 million for library services," said Julie Dahlen, Paso Robles Director of Community Services.

Roughly 25 full time and part-time staff could be impacted.

In June through August of this year, Recreation Services was able to offer 44 classes for the community with COVID-19 precautions in place.

Attendance is estimated at 3,000 participants.

"I think one of our biggest concerns and a big way of defining us as essential is looking to our community post-pandemic. People will need now more than ever to engage in high quality of life activities," Dahlen said.

A vote could happen during Tuesday's meeting but at this point, a decision has not been made.

The city says to maintain operations it's already had to take $7 million a year for the next two years out of the general fund expenditures, plus $5.5 million per year for the next two years out of reserves.