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San Bernardino City Council votes 5-2 to move forward with bankruptcy

July 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The San Bernardino City Council on Wednesday voted 5-2 in favor of moving forward with declaring bankruptcy after finding that a cash flow situation is so dire that a fiscal emergency exists.

The vote means that the city of San Bernardino will move forward with its plans to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in about 30 days.

The city's next step will be to create a short-term budget to allow it to continue operations until they come up with a long-term solution. That budget is expected to be presented to the City Council at a special session scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Voting on whether to pursue declaring bankruptcy way delayed by council members at the Monday meeting, where residents and employees spoke out at length urging the City Council to seek an alternative.

The city will be looking to slash non-essential services to shore up its $45 million deficit.

Public library services may be on the chopping block, even as residents have been using the library's resources to file for unemployment and look for jobs online more than ever, according to library employees.

"We've been cut every year so far since 2008," said library circulation manager Debra Bemben. "I believe we use to have 36 full-time people to run the four branches, now we have 11."

The city's dire financial outlook also has residents worried about other services from street repairs to regular trash pickup.

"I was worrying about the trash and other things like policemen, about our security on the streets," said San Bernardino resident Rafael Rojas.

The city says it is still paying all its vendors, but in cash since its credit is no longer accepted. That has added pressure to the city's cash flow problem.

For now, there is no disruption of city services, but employees say they will be on pins and needles until they know more about their future.

The road back to solvency will likely be a bumpy one.

"How to rebuild that foundation? There will likely be disagreements and perhaps hotly-held views about what we need to do," said San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris.


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