Fresno, CA — 230 miles off Fresno is the town of Duarte, CA. Population of 21,321 people based on the 2010 census. A small town but with big financial problems. Duarte’s fate could end up the same way as other California cities like San Bernadino, Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and Vallejo did, which is BANKRUPTCY. Will this little be able to escape an inevitable fate?
More and more California cities are experiencing a financial meltdown and are on the brink of bankruptcy. It is kind of alarming since cities like Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and San Bernardino filed for insolvency only weeks apart. And now Duarte seems to be the next in line, the City Council is stating that Duarte is about to hit rock bottom broke.
In an effort to save Duarte from bankruptcy, the City Council is eyeing several options. First option will be discussed today to decide if the city should declare a fiscal emergency. The City Council will be meeting at 1600 Huntington Drive around 7 in the evening. Another option that the City Council is contemplating on is to raise the sales tax which they will put on the November 6 ballot as a tax measure. The proposed sales tax would be increased up to a maximum of half-percent for the next 6 years. Translating that for the city of Duarte, it would mean an additional $2 million. Duarte’s City Council is also contemplating on another alternative to the half-percent increase and this is by adding a quarter percent to the sales tax which would give the city roughly $1 million in additional earnings.
Aside from the mentioned alternatives, Duarte has reduced their special assignment deputies, contracts for graffiti removal, tree-trimming operations (they used to do this every 3 years and now it’s up to 5 years), their senior and youth programs just to curb the city’s spending and even the public safety office had to be closed down during Fridays. But despite the reductions, Duarte’s budget is struggling very hard to cope up.
Duarte Mayor John Fasana is hoping that a solution for the city’s fiscal woes would be found soon since they do not want to be in the same boat like the other cities of California that have sunk into bankruptcy. He stated, “The City of Duarte is not in a situation that San Bernardino, which declared bankruptcy this month, finds itself in. We don’t want to get there either.”
Darrell George, Duarte’s City Manager had this to say, “The city would have to declare a fiscal emergency to put the measure on the ballot since its next municipal election is not until November 2013. But the city is also declaring a fiscal emergency, due to the state taking at least $2 million in redevelopment dollars since 2008 and the state’s decision to dissolve redevelopment agencies. The city’s redevelopment agency had generated $1 million for the city annually.”
The proposed tax measure has found a supporter in Councilwoman Liz Reilly who stated, “Really what we need to do is get enough income so we can restore some of our programs and know that in the future, if the economy doesn’t upswing and it stays the way it is, we’ll still have money in order to operate and that we don’t have to back and ask for more.”
Everyone is relying on the sales tax increase since it is projected to put the city in safety zone when it comes to public spending and bring back some of the services they had to cut back when the city’s revenue was down.
For now, Duarte is caught in a wait and see situation … Good luck!