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Budget may force Compton government shutdown

July 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
There was a crisis meeting in Compton Tuesday night, with the government facing a possible shutdown over severe budget problems.

During a tense city council meeting, Compton Mayor Eric Perrodin warned that the city faces a financial crisis.

The city council has been desperately trying to come to terms on a budget for weeks. Councilmembers have twice voted down a budget that would lay off dozens of employees and department heads.

As they considered a revised budget submitted by the city manager just minutes before the meeting started, some councilmembers said the proposal has numerous problems and they need more time to consider it.

"There are some clear violations, according to the charter, in the budget. Laying off directors - you cannot run a department without a director because our city charter says you cannot do that," said Councilmember Yvonne Arceneaux.

Compton, a city with nearly 100,000 residents, has undergone a lot of changes in recent years. The city's gang problem is not as serious, and new businesses have opened.

But the city ended the fiscal year with a $23 million deficit. With no budget agreement Tuesday night, city workers may not get paid this week.

"I think it's a travesty what's going with this city," said city employee Rose Downs. "If they lay off the amount of employees...it's going to devastate the city services. I live in the city. I'm a homeowner in this city. I'm the sole supporter of my family. It's going to devastate families throughout this city."

Some city employees walked out of the meeting and others were thrown out by the mayor. The council adjourned its public meeting and went into a closed session Tuesday night.

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