Last updated: May 31. 2013 9:18PM - 59 Views
Lonnie Adamson

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Looking for cuts in all the wrong places

Whenever we hear the state talking about the need for consolidation of services, we get worried. Almost always that means smaller communities will suffer the most because they don't have the tax bases of larger metropolitan areas to absorb cuts in government services.
It was an argument that town and county officials made last year when officials with the Social Security Administration closed its Yadkinville office, consolidating operations in Winston-Salem. A cost-savings measure, we were told. Not enough clients to justify a presence in a town of roughly 2,800 residents.
And to make a long bureaucratic fight short, the town lost that battle.
Now there is a move underway apparently to close the Yadkinville office of the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina. Once again, we are told by state officials that it's a cost-cutting proposal and that many smaller communities may also be affected by the consolidations.
"More will follow," a memo says with state officials saying they continue to evaluate other locations on a "case by case" basis. Incremental cuts, the memo says, will not be sufficient. Instead, ESC officials say more drastic measures will be necessary.
Although the ESC says that it plans to ask the N.C. General Assembly for additional funding, the state agency is preparing for a "worst case scenario," which would mean the closing of half of the 93 offices across the state. Smaller communities, such as Yadkinville, would be the target of those cuts, the memo says, meaning that job seekers would have to drive to Winston-Salem, Mocksville or Mount Airy to other ESC offices.
County Manager Eric Williams says that he is closely monitoring the situation and doesn't believe the Yadkinville office will be closed -- at least not in the near future. We certainly hope that Williams is right. In fact, we can't think of any justification for closing the office that has provided an invaluable service to thousands of local unemployed workers over the years who could make the short drive to Yadkinville to look for a job and speak with a counselor instead of commuting to Winston-Salem.
At a time of economic uncertainty; when many workers are making the difficult transition from the factory floor to the information age and rural areas find it hard to compete with larger cities for career opportunities; it's imperative that places like Yadkinville have a local employment office. Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things in Raleigh, small towns aren't cost efficient when looking for places to cut the budget. We don't believe that to be so. And we invite anyone from the capital to come here and look for a job who believes differently.
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