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County Libraries to Reduce Hours : Budget: Supervisors also cut services at clinics, hospitals, history museum and community centers.


Although the Board of Supervisors last week spared many critical services from the budget ax, including sheriff's department substations and district attorney's field offices, it decided to scale back hours at all 16 county library branches in Central Los Angeles.

Beginning Oct. 19, libraries will open later and close earlier. Some will be closed on days they are now open.

The Huntington Park and East Los Angeles libraries are among seven county branches where Sunday hours will be eliminated. The supervisors are expected to decide later this month whether to close up to 12 branches yet to be named.

Most county department managers are still trying to figure out how they will absorb the $250 million in cuts the supervisors approved as part of an effort to balance the county's $13.4-billion budget. Few departments were able to provide details on how the cuts will affect services in Central Los Angeles.

Kathleen Snook, chief deputy director of the county Department of Mental Health, said counselors at clinics throughout the county will see about 3,000 fewer clients this fiscal year than last.

County-funded hospitals that include outpatient mental health clinics, such as Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center and County-USC Hospital, will probably handle about 3,000 fewer patients this year, Snook said.

The impact of the hiring freeze, combined with a new early retirement program, will probably mean reduced staffing at one senior citizen center in Willowbrook and at four community service centers in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, the Florence-Firestone area and north of Downtown, said Larry Johnson, assistant director of the Department of Community and Senior Citizens Services. The centers provide gang prevention counseling, adult education and infant feeding programs, among other things.

But Johnson said state- and federally-funded programs will supplement any lost services.

Meanwhile, the county also cut funding for school tours at the county's Natural History Museum in Exposition Park. Museum spokeswoman Catherine Krell said the museum will probably cut funding for research to keep the tours going.

"Our goal is to maintain the integrity of our education programs," Krell said. "We are going to definitely rely more on our 600 volunteers now."

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