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Steve Chiotakis: Today libraries in Los Angeles county, California, are cutting hours. Also today, fewer bus routes in Phoenix. And other cities are planning to raise the rates for public transit. All a part of local areas across the country slashing budgets. But that’s not the worst of it, as Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler reports.
Jeff Tyler: It seems that no form of city funding is safe. Property taxes have dropped along with housing values. And consumer spending is down, which hurts a city’s sales taxes.
Chris Hoene: Almost all local revenues are being affected in some way.
That’s Chris Hoene with the National League of Cities. He says an overwhelming majority of American cities are cutting staff.
Hoene: If they don’t have the personnel, they can’t run the transit service. They can’t staff the libraries, and they’re closing libraries and recreation centers. So it translates into visible service cuts.
In some cases, the cuts are more than visible, they’re potentially dangerous.
Hoene: We’re at the point where cities are making cuts in police and fire fighters.
Budget cuts come with a silver lining for some bus riders in Scottsdale, Ariz. The city hired a new contractor for one route. It saves money by not charging fares. Apparently the expense of collecting and counting fares outweighs the profit, so that bus ride is now free.
I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.
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