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Folsom’s budget cuts hit children’s activities

By: Don Chaddock
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(Editor’s note: We’re going to take a break from the regular three-dot format this week due to the importance of covering the city’s budget crisis.)

You may not know it by looking at me now, but when I was younger, I spent many hours on the field playing soccer and baseball in city league youth programs.
I remember donning my black and gold soccer uniform for the Aztecs and feeling a sense of pride. In our backyard, I set up an old tire in the corner of the fence to practice my aim and goal shots, even off-season.
Our team played regular matches, regional tournaments and state championships (which we didn’t win, as I recall). Winning didn’t really matter in the end as we had a great time learning sportsmanship, discipline and the importance of teamwork. All that running was also great exercise.
In today’s society, getting children outside for some exercise is crucial and that’s why it’s such a shame the cuts proposed by the city of Folsom would so heavily impact youth sports activities.
Under the proposal, city-sponsored sports leagues for children and adults would be “reduced” or eliminated.
What this means in the real world is that deep cuts in Folsom’s Parks and Recreation Department could mean children won’t get to play soccer or flag football. (Non-city organizations such as the Jr. Bulldogs wouldn’t be affected.) The city reassures us that offerings would simply be reduced, but the word “eliminate” on the proposed budget worries me.
City Manger Kerry Miller said the impacts on the average resident would be “imperceptible.” I don’t believe that will be the case for many of the families who utilize the city’s wonderful sports leagues and other youth activities.
From my perspective, it appears as though children’s activities will be affected in a disproportionate level when compared to other proposed cuts.
Even the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary is taking a big hit. The new budget proposes to eliminate the “Zoo Sanctuary’s educational program, summer camp programs and birthday parties.”
The department will also see the elimination of 12 positions, leaving them with a staff of 50.
Children aren’t the only age group to fall victim to the budget ax. It appears seniors and adults will also suffer. The city is seeking to cut “all adult special interest/leisure and recreation classes,” according to the new budget proposal.
When looking at the library, the city wants to shut down the Norman R. Siefkin Library (at Vista Del Lago High School) on Fridays and the Georgia Murray Library Building on Mondays (in addition to one evening per week).
Councilman Jeff Starsky said the cuts are necessary and these programs, while great for residents, are “luxuries” the city can no longer afford.
The good news is the city isn’t trying to dip deeper in the wallets of residents.
“The economy has been characterized as the worst since the Great Depression,” said City Manager Kerry Miller. “Nothing in this proposal is asking the residents of Folsom for more money.”
Miller said that despite the cuts, essential city services will continue uninterrupted.
“Our roads will still be paved. Our lawns will still be mowed. Trash will be picked up and people will still be able to flush their toilets and turn on their taps,” Miller said.
While residents may be able to flush the toilet, will their kids be able to play city league sports or learn about animals at the zoo?
I’m holding out hope that the quality of life in Folsom remains high and fulfilling in light of the budget crisis.

Don Chaddock is the editor of
The Folsom Telegraph. He may be reached at
donc@goldcountrymedia.com.