Budget cuts could shut down Richmond street lights

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Street lights in Richmond may go dark if one city leader's budget cutting proposal is successful. It's a suggestion that has some worried about walking through town after sunset. "If young ladies have to walk down the street, it wouldn't be safe," EKU freshman Charla Hatfield said.

Others say they realize the city is struggling financially, and Richmond will have to cut somewhere. "I think that would be a good idea just to cut them out because I know they've got to save everything they can the way times are," Richmond native Virgie Long said.

The idea comes from Richmond City Commissioner Rita Smart. Smart says the city's multimillion dollar budget shortfall has to be addressed. But what about the safety of losing lights? "That's true. It's not safe," Smart said, "but I did allude to that they were off during the ice storm for a few days, and we made it. People that live in the country, you know, it's dark."

Smart projects the move could save the city $400,000 per year. She says she realizes shutting off street lights could create public safety problems, but she says so could possible police layoffs and other cost-cutting alternatives, and sooner or later, something's got to give.

For now Commissioner Smart says she's open to other solutions, but when it comes to the city's budget probems, they could be out of light before they're out of time.

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