REPORT: Facing the same financial stressors that pushed San Bernardino toward bankruptcy, cities across California are slashing day-to-day services and taking other drastic actions to skirt a similar fiscal collapse.
For some, it may not be enough.
San Bernardino on Tuesday became the third California city to seek bankruptcy protection in the last month and, while no one expects the state to be consumed by municipal insolvencies, other cities teeter on the abyss.
"There are likely to be more in the future, but it's hard to know, since a lot of struggling cities may manage to work things out,'' said Michael Coleman, a fiscal policy advisor for the California League of Cities. "Some cities may not go into a bankruptcy, but they may dissolve. They may cease to exist.''
Once rare, turning to bankruptcy has become a painful but enticing option for cities whose labor costs and municipal debt far outpace anemic tax revenues. The Bay Area city of Vallejo began the current trend in May 2008, filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection because, city leaders said, salaries and benefits for its public safety workers were eating up too much of the general fund.
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