Library worker Andrea Zuniga says her dream job of 10 years in peril because she filled the library's last full-time position. City workers in San Bernardino -- which has an unemployment rate of 15.7 percent -- are on edge in the wake of the city council's decision to file for federal bankruptcy protection. Jacob Rascon reports from San Bernardino for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 11, 2012.
San Bernardino’s Tuesday night decision to seek federal bankruptcy protection in the face of a $45 million shortfall will likely hit public services and its employees the hardest.
The city’s move to file Chapter 9 bankruptcy hinged, in part, on its ability to make payroll – a responsibility city officials say may not happen.
Related: San Bernardino Woes Loomed for Years
The grim financial prospects for their city and their families have those workers on edge in a city with a 15.7 percent unemployment rate.
“We’re all anxious and nervous and sick to our stomachs,” said Debra Bemben.
Another worker echoed the reality of their situations: "We don’t make decisions with the money, we just work."
Library services are among those in jeopardy as San Bernardino considers massive reductions the mayor called a "severe financial haircut."
Library worker Andrea Zuniga says the city council’s decision could put her dream job – which she has held for a decade – in peril.
"My position is the last position in the full-time position so yeah, I would be cut first," said Zuniga, whose husband Jerry also works for the city.
John Husing, an Inland Empire economist, believes the city should have seen this coming.
"Was this something – a train wreck – you could see coming? Most of us who haven’t been in the middle of this would say absolutely," Husing said.
Experts say the recession hit San Bernardino harder than most and about 69 percent of the mortgages there are underwater – meaning those homes are worth less than the mortgage holders owe.
Husing blames the bankruptcy move on above-average unemployment, a massive loss in tax revenue, state funding losses and an outdated city charter.
"The political system is a disaster," he said.
City employees say they, too, say this coming.
"We've always had a threat of this kind of situation but it's in our face now, it's actually happening," said one city employee.