SAN BERNARDINO (CBS/AP) – The consequences of the city’s fiscal crisis took a trashy turn during a hearing Monday night when San Bernardino officials noted garbage pick-up was among the obligations they might not be able to afford after turning their government into a cash-only operation.
The City Council voted Monday to delay the vote until Wednesday to avoid mediation and head straight to federal bankruptcy. The council previously had voted to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, but Monday night members expressed a desire for more time to look over financial information and talk to constituents.
CBS2 reporter Jeff Nguyen reports the City of San Bernardino can no longer pay for anything on credit, such as gasoline for its fleet of garbage pick-up trucks. As a result, taxpayers may be left holding the bag for taking away their trash promptly as early as Wednesday.
“The trash and the streets are not going to be swept,” warned city sanitation worker Jerry Zuniga. “You leave the trash there for too long, it’s going to be health issue.”
The city faces a roughly $45 million budget shortfall even after slashing spending. Several city workers told Nguyen they were afraid they might not get a paycheck next month since San Bernardino only has about $9 million in the bank – not enough to cover the next two or three pay periods.
Though troubled, officials suggested the city’s cash situation may not be as dire as originally proposed. Restricted funds seen as the city’s “savings accounts” did not appear on the 2011-2012 budget.
Depending on how the council plans to move ahead, neutral evaluation of the city’s total financial position may be required under California law before filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.
Council members also voted to immediately begin formal negotiations with employee unions as they struggle to meet payroll.
San Bernardino could become the third California city since last month to file for bankruptcy, following Stockton and Mammoth Lakes.
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