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Duarte heading to bankruptcy as critical Tuesday meeting looms

By Brian Hews

Duarte could become the latest municipality to be forced into formal bankruptcy and many other cities could be facing the same fate.

Citing the loss of the City’s 38-year old Redevelopment Agency, the Duarte City Council will be considering declaring a fiscal emergency on Tuesday night in order to place a sales tax measure on the upcoming November 6 ballot.

According to Mayor John Fasana, “The City is not in a bankruptcy situation and we don’t want to get there either. ” Adding, Additional cuts or new revenues need to be found sooner rather than later.”

Although not teetering on the brink of bankruptcy today, in Duarte’s case, the fiscal emergency is a means to proactively respond to four years of State cuts by asking our voters to consider a revenue measure intended to keep funds in Duarte and protect essential services. “Based on continuing, chronic uncertainty coming from Sacramento, we must ensure adequate local fiscal resources to preserve the City’s outstanding public safety department and quality youth and senior programs,” says City Manager Darrell George. Adding, “This is an administrative step we must take to put the ballot measure on in November since this is a non-City election year for us.”

Other cities to face bankruptcy include San Bernardino and Stockton and several others could be just weeks away from a total fiscal meltdown.

“If a ballot measure is approved by the City Council, revenue collected could range from approximately $1 million dollars annually for 1/4 percent sales tax increase to $2 million per year for a 1/2 cent,” city officials said in a statement on Monday.

“Funds would be used to help restore and protect essential services the City has been forced to cut or reduce to keep the City’s budget in balance against continuing State of California revenue raids and now, the elimination of Duarte’s long standing Redevelopment Agency,” a city media spoke person said.

Since April, the City has been working with Willdan Financial Services and the National Demographics Corportation to decide which revenue measure to put before the voters. To do this, a telephone survey of approximately 375 registered voters was conducted. The sales tax proposal receivd the most support from respondents. To supplement the survey, Willdan also conducted a 25-person focus groupto gather more in-depth opinions to formulate the survey.

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