San Bernardino Library Assistant Andrea Zuniga says city job cuts would hurt her family because her husband also works for the city. She's one of several librarians worried about the city's likely bankruptcy.
Out of money and on the brink of bankruptcy, the San Bernardino City Council is expected to declare a fiscal emergency on Monday.
Last week, its coffers drained after years of budget deficits, the council voted to authorize its attorneys to seek bankruptcy protection.
Declaring a fiscal emergency will help the city make a case that it should be exempt from a California law requiring municipalities to wait 60 days before declaring bankruptcy. The waiting period is supposed to encourage cities to negotiate budget buts with unions, banks and other creditors before taking the step of filing for bankruptcy.
But officials in San Bernardino have said that they may not be able to wait that long.
"Ciity Attorney Jim Penman may file for bankruptcy within the next 30 days," Miller said in a statement.
Other action on Monday could include swift cuts to city services, as the council votes on a temporary budget for the month of August.
Interim City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller has not yet released details of the proposed budget, but employee unions are bracing for cuts.
“Morale is really down,” said Steve Tracy, a spokesman for the 128-member San Bernardino City Professional Firefighters. ”Where do we go from here? What are our livelihoods going to be?”
The agenda for Monday's meeting includes a budget resolution that would keep spending in August at the same level as a typical month during the last fiscal year, which ended two weeks ago.
Last year's budget, though smaller than 2010-2011, called for $259 million in spending. A twelfth of that, which is the amount being proposed for August, would be $21.58 million.
But it is not clear whether the city has enough money at its disposal to do that.
"In order to balance the City’s budget, deep cuts will have to be made across the board,” Miller said.
Still, she promised that the city would pay its debts and provide "essential services" to the public.
“San Bernardino will continue to function and move forward," Miller said. "We will continue to provide essential services and are committed to meeting our obligations."