Cortland agencies, leaders look at potential cuts to services under sequestration

With massive cuts set to kick in, the president announced Wednesday that he’ll meet with Congressional leaders on Friday.
Cortland (WSYR-TV) - With massive cuts set to kick in, the president announced Wednesday that he’ll meet with Congressional leaders on Friday.

Ahead of that meeting, city leaders in Central New York are preparing how they will cope with the cuts.

One of the organizations that could see cuts is the YWCA, a program that one local woman says helped get her out of a life of misery.

For 13 years, Linda Shutts endured severe abuse at the hands of her own husband - invisible scars that will last a lifetime remain.

"He was very physically and emotionally abusive. I finally told my employer at my time if I didn't show up to work one day that he should call the police because I could be dead,” she said.

But one day, she finally escaped and got help at the YWCA located in Cortland.

She was sheltered in a safe place with a supportive staff that essentially saved her life.

"I’d be dead because if I hadn't gotten away from him and moved into the safe dwelling he would have killed me,” Shutts said.

Now, Shutts works with the organization as a program director helping other victims of violence.

She knows firsthand how critical the services are. But with the potential Federal cuts, hundreds of abuse victims in Central New York won’t get the help they need.

Under possible sequestration, family violence and prevention services in New York State would lose more than $400,000.

Senior Nutrition, like Meals on Wheels, would lose more than $3 million.

Meanwhile, General Education would lose upwards of $79 million.

Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin and other community and city leaders are scrambling to find ways to cope with the Federal cuts should they go into effect on March 1.

“When there's money that could be taken away that could impact teachers, teacher aides - in particular special education - and if that money is taken away the question is where will that money come from,” Tobin said.

“We are already struggling with increases in the number of people seeking these resources even before sequestration happens on Friday; if that does happen,” said Linda Glennon.

Even more disheartening is that many of the cuts will affect the county’s most vulnerable population like the men and women Shutts works with.

“We're here 24 hours a day 7 days a week to keep people safe and with the limited amount of staff I have now any cuts to that would be devastating,” Shutts said.

Along with domestic violence programs, funding for public safety and military readiness are also at stake if those cuts go through this Friday.

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