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The proposed Erie County budget will cripple entire agencies, eliminate services and harm the economy by putting workers on the street rather than in our libraries.

Public libraries are not a luxury but a necessity. There is no greater investment in the future than having our children learn, grow and explore in a library, and no greater return on our investment than the love of literacy. To some, the library is a community center, a fixture in their neighborhood. To children, it is a place to stay off the streets. To others, it is a place to do serious research. To all, it is a place to relax and read. Please don't close our library doors on Jan. 1.

County Executive Joel Giambra needs to actually run the government we elected him to, rather than shut it down. In the absence of real leadership at the top, I implore the County Legislature to put people before politics and to do what is hard but what is right and pass a budget that serves the people and saves vital services such as libraries.

Mark Collins