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Illinois historic sites planning to reduce hours

Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 9:32 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ historic sites aren’t expected to close because of budget cuts but are planning to curtail visiting hours after Labor Day.

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1pOx0Zj ) that Gov. Pat Quinn’s office is helping the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to implement the plan. About $1.1 million was cut from the historic sites section of the Historic Preservation Agency’s budget. The 19 percent cut for historic sites is part of a $35.7 billion budget approved by lawmakers in May that doesn’t allocate enough money to cover expenses, uses special funds for day-to-day operations and banks on future increases in revenue that may not materialize.

Lawmakers face heightened pressure to find additional funds next year or cut at least $4.4 billion in expenses, forcing layoffs, facility closures and massive program cuts.

Historic Preservation Agency director Amy Martin said the agency plans to finalize a list of sites with reduced hours by August.

Some sites are open for seven days a week during a majority of the year, but others feature expanded hours in the summer.

Officials say the reduction in hours would most likely mean closing for a full day or more instead of simply closing early.

The Historic Preservation Agency also plans to fill vacancies until it sees if lawmakers approve a supplemental budget after the November election to restore funding for the agency, a strategy that Martin acknowledges could be risky.

“If we don’t get [the budget restored], then the consequences would be worse because now you only have six months to make the cuts,” she said. “We do hope working with the Legislature and the governor’s office that we’ll be able to restore our budget.”

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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