Written by Aaron-Michael Fox. Cover photo by Joshua Murdock.
If you have been on social media, particularly Facebook, for the past week, you have likely seen some of your friends changing their profile picture to a green, black, and white Parks & Libraries graphic.
This is part of a groundswell of public support for Cabell County’s Library and Parks systems, which are facing severe budget cuts at the hands of the Board of Education (BOE).
The BOE voted on August 1, 2023 to move forward with a plan to cut funding by 90/100% despite enormous public outcry.
According to Cabell County Library Business Manager, Kristy Browning, it is legally mandated for the BOE to include the county library system and Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation District in their excess levy. The BOE is ignoring these laws on the basis that they believe they are against the state constitution. The BOE lawyers believe this to be true, but legal counsel on the side of parks and libraries disagrees.
Browning says, “It’s difficult to estimate how much funding these two entities should get because it’s based on how much is collected in property taxes, but as of the last year that the BOE funded [the parks and libraries] properly, [the amount] would be roughly $1.7 million for the library system and $600,000 for the parks. This is only about 1% total of the BOE budget. I’d also like to note that while the proposed levy wouldn’t take effect until 2025, the Board is illegally withholding a large portion of the funds on the current levy, which is not ambiguous, and was passed by the voters in 2020.”
The graphic that is taking over everyone’s Facebook accounts was specifically designed by Huntington-native, Marshall University graduate, and Grammy Award-winning artist Don Pendleton to help raise awareness for the dire situation of the Parks and Libraries.
“As someone who used to live in Huntington and still has family and friends there, I just think both parks and libraries are two of the most valuable resources in the area and they both need to be protected and invested in,” Pendleton said. “I designed the logo just to help raise awareness of the current situation with funding and the BOE.”