San Bernardino’s City Council voted to become the third California city this year to file for bankruptcy, as it struggles with declining tax revenue, growing employee costs and accounting discrepancies in its ledgers.
The council voted 4 to 2, with one abstention, last night to authorize a filing under Chapter 9 of U.S. bankruptcy law. The city of 209,000, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, is so broke it can’t make its Aug. 15 payroll, interim City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller said.
“If the employees are not paid on Aug. 15, on Aug. 16 there will be a mass exodus of city employees,” City Attorney James Penman told the council before the vote. “People are not going to work when they don’t get paid. Most of our employees will not show up to work. That would include police, fire, refuse, everybody. The city will virtually shut down.”
A San Bernardino filing would follow Stockton, a community of 292,000 east of San Francisco, which on June 28 became the biggest U.S. city to go into bankruptcy. Mammoth Lakes, a mountain resort of 8,200, filed for protection from creditors on July 3 saying it can’t afford to pay a $43 million judgment, more than twice its general-fund spending for the year.