This story has been corrected to reflect that the next work session on the city budget is at 3 p.m. today.
COLUMBIA - The Paquin Tower recreation program was the main topic during the city budget public hearing at the City Council's meeting Tuesday night.
In previous work sessions the City Council had proposed cutting back the program's budget from $88,000 to $61,000. Those changes are not final until the council approves the budget for fiscal year 2009 at its Sept. 15 meeting. The reduction in funding is a compromise that would prevent Paquin's recreation program from being cut completely, as the city manager's budget originally called for.
At the public hearing, the general plea of the 16 people who spoke about the Paquin Tower recreation program was that the council should fully fund the program for another year, providing time to look for other funding sources.
"Give us the time to create a better program," Sean Spence said at the meeting. "Give the city the time to marshal its resources."
Chuck Dudley Jr. handed the council a petition with over 200 signatures, which asked that the Paquin Tower program be saved, and cited the need for its part-time employees, whose jobs could be jeopardized with funding cuts.
The speakers' main concern was the transportation aspect of the program, which would be cut if funding were scaled back.
Members of the public also spoke about their concern for funding cuts that would affect the Historic Preservation Fund and Twin Lakes.
Brian Treece, chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission, spoke about the proposed elimination of the Historical Preservation Revolving Fund. It was removed from the city's budget in a series of cuts aimed at designating more money to a reallocation fund for other projects. Treece said the revolving fund helped the Historic Preservation Society pay for preservation projects.
One Columbia resident spoke against the budget cuts proposed for Twin Lakes. The City Council proposed cutting costs by closing the lake for swimming at Pirate's Landing and reducing all outdoor aquatic facility hours.
Jeannette Acton made a scheduled public comment about sidewalks on Hunt Ave. The process of building the sidewalks would require cutting down mature trees, and she said that in some cases, it would decrease the property value of houses built close to the road.
A public work session will be held at 3 p.m. today to discuss the proposed amendments, though no public comment will be allowed.