Teen Center To Go?
Drug Prevention Program Also Faces Ax As Village Looks At Cuts
By TIM O'CONNOR Journal & Topics Reporter
Planned budget cuts may lead to the closing of the Arlington Hts. Teen Center and the discontinuing of a school drug prevention program.
The cuts were proposed during a village board Committee-of-the-Whole meeting Monday, Nov. 30 to determine a tax levy for 2010. The board needed to make $3.275 million in cuts in order to come up with a levy.
The teen center and Too Good For Drugs, a program similar to D.A.R.E., were among the proposed cuts. However, the cuts are not final and residents will still be able to voice their opinion during the village board meeting on Monday, Dec. 7.
Cutting the anti-drug program was difficult for many board members because it serves thousands of Arlington Hts. students.
"I just want to make sure we're making the right decision as a community," said Trustee Thomas Glasgow, who voted against ending Too Good For Drugs.
The program not only tackles drug prevention but also teaches students about Internet safety and cyber bullying.
But Too Good For Drugs was deemed unnecessary compared to other essential services. The program uses two police officers that Village Manager Bill Dixon said could be filling two vacant spots on the police force.
"We didn't consider this a basic service when compared to patrol," he said.
Salaries for those two officers total about $222,000. The program itself cost another $15,000. Dixon said those salaries should be working Arlington Hts. streets.
The trustees ultimately agreed with Dixon, voting 5-3 to cut the drug prevention program.
"This service is already provided by the majority of families in Arlington Hts.," Trustee Thomas Hayes said.
More of the board members saw the teen center as non-essential. Only Mayor Arlene Mulder voted against closing the building.
"The teen center is not by any stretch of the imagination a basic service," Trustee Norman Breyer said. "I think it's something that, given these trying times, is expendable."
Closing the teen center and dismissing its five staff members would save the village about $378,000.
Several board members expressed their desire to see other groups continue the work done by Too Good For Drugs and the teen center.
The teen center would close in late January. Too Good For Drugs would be discontinued at the end of the school year because it is an integral part of the current curriculum.
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