San Bernardino, the third California city to move toward a bankruptcy filing this year, may defer paying $3.4 million in pension bonds and $2.2 million toward retiree health care to tide it over before seeking court protection from creditors.
The city of 209,000 about 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of Los Angeles would defer a total of $6.4 million in payments under an emergency budget facing a City Council vote today.
Pressured by declines in property taxes and rising employee costs, as well as accounting irregularities, San Bernardino’s City Council voted July 10 to seek bankruptcy protection and followed up a week later by declaring a fiscal emergency. That lets San Bernardino bypass mediation with creditors and go directly to bankruptcy court.
“These measures are intended to enable the city to meet its obligations over a three-month period and will not result in a sustainable, balanced budget,” interim City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller and Finance Director Jason Simpson said in a memo to the council recommending approval.
If the city seeks protection, it would join California’s Stockton, an agricultural center of 292,000 east of San Francisco, and Mammoth Lakes, a mountain resort town of 8,200 south of Yosemite National Park.
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