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August Hot Topics

It’s August, we’re in the thick of summer and one of the hottest topics is the proposed closure of seven of Broward County’s smallest libraries. This includes the Bernice P. Oster Reading Center on South Ocean Drive in Hollywood and the Walter C. Young library in Pembroke Pines. I’ve received petitions, hundreds of telephone calls, e-mails, postcards and letters from residents opposed to closing these libraries. I want you to know that I’m doing everything I can to keep these libraries open and available to you. I agree that they’re very popular and often used by people who live nearby. These proposed budget cuts are also a good example of the challenges that the Commission faces as we vow to cut taxes and struggle to maintain the quality services that Broward residents are used to receiving. The unstable economy, falling property values and the passage of amendment 1 has left us in a budget bind. Closing seven libraries countywide is but one of many proposed cuts across the board that Commissioners must consider as we work to trim $109 million from next year’s general fund budget.

The County Commission is committed to providing the tax relief residents need during this downturn in the economy; however, it will not come easily. I won’t give up the fight, but I encourage you to attend one of the two public budget hearings scheduled on September 10th and September 22nd at 5:01 p.m. at the Broward County Governmental Center. Your opinion is important and influential and you’re welcome to speak about all county services that are most important to you.

A reminder….
It’s still hurricane season. I hope that by now you’re prepared. If not, please visit www.broward.org/hurricane. You’ll find all the information you’ll need to create a family plan and a week by week shopping guide to help you stock up in the event that a hurricane comes our way. You should have enough food, water, medication, etc. to be self-sufficient for three to five days. Broward County is also introducing a new program to help us quickly identify areas of devastation, even before damage assessment teams are able to canvass the County. The Home Damage Assessment Program asks residents to report hurricane damage to their home as soon as it is safe to go outside. Begin by printing the home damage assessment photos that you’ll find on the Hurricane Website and save them for future reference. After the storm, once it’s safe, assess any damage to your home and compare that damage to the assessment photos. Then call the Broward County Hurricane Hotline at 3-1-1 to phone in a damage assessment report. Resident reports will provide a critical early indication of where major damage has occurred. These reports do not constitute a request for individual assistance and do not replace the normal grid-by-grid assessments performed by County assessment teams. This is a new program that we’ve never tried before; your help will be most appreciated.

If you have any questions or issues that you’d like to discuss, please don’t hesitate to call my office at (954) 357-7006 or send me an e-mail at sgunzburger@broward.org