SK shouldn’t bear the cost of cutbacks alone

To the petition submitted last week to Kitsap County commissioners in support of the much-needed programs and services offered at the Givens Community Center, permit us to add our name.

There is no question the recreational, educational and support services provided at the Port Orchard facility are one of the pillars upon which the community rests, and any proposed changes or cutbacks to them should be carefully scrutinized. That said, in an environment of national economic uncertainty and reductions at all levels, Givens shouldn’t be considered exempt from the budget axe.

What concerns us at this point is whether the pain will be spread fairly and equitably.

Two weeks ago, the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Department suggested consolidating its staff under one roof at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds, leaving no on-site personnel at the Givens Center after the first of the year. Others have since seized on the plan to suggest the county use the then-vacated space in Givens to relieve overcrowding at the Kitsap County Courthouse.

To date, no specific cutbacks in Givens programs and services have been suggested, let alone enacted. Nonetheless, word that reductions were even being considered cut like a scythe through South Kitsap, where thousands of residents depend weekly on Givens.

Again, our position is that if budget cuts are necessary, nothing — including Givens — should be off the table. At the same time, we’re wondering whether comparable facilities elsewhere around Kitsap County would also be cut, or whether Port Orchard is being singled out.

The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners is currently composed of Democrats Chris Endresen and Tim Botkin representing North and Central Kitsap, respectively, and Republican Jan Angel from South Kitsap. Given the often-contentious relations between the three, it doesn’t require much imagination to envision a scenario in which Endresen and Botkin would team up to eliminate a program in a district other than their own.

Meanwhile, there is also the question of Port Orchard’s opposition to — and defeat of — the plan to relocate a large portion of the county’s workforce from South Kitsap to a proposed consolidated governance center in downtown Bremerton.

If cuts must be made, so be it. But the decision of which, if any, programs should be eliminated must be based on fairness and economic necessity, not partisanship and payback.

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