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Duarte Nears Fiscal Emergency, But Downplays Bankruptcy Fears

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DUARTE (CBSLA.com) — Officials in the city of Duarte on Tuesday were set to vote on declaring a fiscal emergency in the wake of plunging sales revenues and losing millions more in redevelopment dollars from the state.

KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports the move would allow lawmakers to place a sales tax increase on the November ballot.

City Council members will vote on the declaration that would allow them to ask voters to approve a proposed increase of up to a half-percent sales tax that could raise as much as $1.9 million annually for the cash-strapped city.

Duarte City Manager Daryl George said the revenue would actually allow them to restore some of the cuts to services — including public safety and senior and youth programs — that have been ongoing since 2008.

“We’re hoping that this revenue measure could bring back some of those programs and services that the Duarte community is used to having,” said George. “

The tax increase would remain in effect through 2018 to offset the estimated $700,000 in cuts made during the last fiscal year.

But Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association warned that taxpayers should be skeptical of cities declaring a fiscal emergency simply to cover up their own mistakes.

“It may be true or it may not,” said Coupal, adding that the losses could also be the result of “either overpaid pension benefits or other acts of mismanagement”.

Despite the cash crunch, however, officials in Duarte rejected any suggestion that the city could file for bankruptcy and follow in the footsteps of other cities like San Bernardino or Stockton.

The City Council is expected to vote on the measure tonight at 7 p.m.

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