The small southern California city of Maywood has hit on a unique solution to its budget crisis. Crushed by the recession and falling tax revenues, the city is disbanding its police force and firing all public sector employees.
Maywood has opted for an extreme solution, by contracting out all public services, including the most basic, to save cash. But it is not alone.
States around the US are cutting costs wherever possible as they prepare budgets for the fiscal year that starts this week for most of them. Their combined deficit is projected to reach $112bn by June 2011.
Local government activities, such as funding police, school buildings, fire departments, parks and social programmes, are in the line of fire.
“We are where the rubber meets the road,” said Sam Olivito, of the California Contract Cities Association, which represents cities that outsource public services. “Local government is the fabric of our nation – it's what keeps everything working properly.”
加州外包城市协会(California Contract Cities Association)的山姆•奥利维托(Sam Olivito)表示：“我们是真正重要的环节。地方政府是国家的结构——它使一切正常运转。”加州外包城市协会代表着外包公共服务的各城市。
The biggest state deficit is in California, which has a $19bn hole in its finances. A series of contentious spending cuts is being debated in the state.
But for Maywood time has run out: the city's insurance costs spiked because of long-running problems associated with its police department, while revenue from property and sales taxes declined. When city officials failed to respond to conditions imposed by its insurers, coverage was withdrawn.
Despite its problems, Maywood's experience could be repeated elsewhere. “A lot of cities and municipalities are struggling to make ends meet,” said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California.
尽管问题重重，但Maywood的经历可能在其它地方重复。加州公共政策研究所(Public Policy Institute of California)所长马克•巴尔达萨雷 (Mark Baldassare)表示：“许多城市难以实现收支平衡。”
While Californian cities and municipalities grapple with a drop in income – sales and property taxes have fallen by as much as 40 per cent, according to Mr Olivito – the state is considering a range of revenue- raising measures to tackle its deficit.
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