Originally created 09/13/03

Halls of fame hit hard by state cuts



ATLANTA - The Georgia music and sports halls of fame might be reducing their hours further because of coming state budget cuts.

A combined cut of nearly $112,000 could be sliced out of this year's and next year's budgets of the two halls - a result of across-the-board spending cuts in state government.

The state proposes cutting a total of $58,400 from the sports hall's budget for this year and next. The state would also cut a total of $40,000 from the music hall. The cuts must be approved by Gov. Sonny Perdue and the General Assembly.

Those cuts come in addition to $13,000 the two halls have already saved by sharing four employees.

Each state agency must submit to Mr. Perdue by this week a proposal for cutting 2.5 percent from its current budget, and an additional 5 percent from next year's budget. The state's budget shortfall, which some estimates place at nearly $1 billion, led Mr. Perdue to ask for the spending cuts.

The sports hall may have to again consider closing on certain days, a spokesman said. The museum closed on Sundays from December to April to save money.

"It's going to be real difficult for us, just like everyone else," said Robbie Burns, a spokesman for the sports hall. "They'll talk about every option that's out there."

The sports hall's interim executive director, Jackie Decell, had minor surgery this week and was not available for comment, Mr. Burns said. Sports Hall Authority Chairman Wendell Couch could not be reached for comment.

The sports hall has had more than $240,000 in state money trimmed from its budget in recent years, Mr. Burns said. The museum has nine full-time employees, but was originally slated to have 12 or 13 employees.

Both museums this year began sharing four employees, which resulted in savings of about $13,000, said Phil Foil, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which administers the two museums.

Music Hall of Fame Director Liz Garcia did not return calls seeking comment on the proposed cuts.

The Department of Community Affairs is proposing a cut of $3.2 million out of its 2004 and 2005 fiscal-year budgets. The agency has a budget of $29 million this year.

The cuts would affect programs in public housing, rural economic development, urban planning and the state agency that operates a regional commuter-bus system in metro Atlanta.