Scandal-hit Calif. city near bankruptcy

Jan. 7, 2011 at 11:50 AM

BELL, Calif., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The small city of Bell, Calif., notorious for its officials' extravagant pay, is going broke, an audit warns.

A review by Los Angeles County, released Thursday, estimates if the city keeps spending at current rates, it will run a $2.2 million deficit by the end of the fiscal year, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The audit called for laying off employees, cutting city salaries, benefits, supplies and services, offering only "core services" and possibly disbanding the police force.

Pedro Carrillo, Bell's interim chief administrative officer, said Thursday he will present the city council with ways to balance the budget.

"All options are on the table," he responded when asked if bankruptcy was a possibility.

The city, one of the county's poorest, was engulfed in scandal last year when the Times revealed its leaders' astronomical salaries.

In September, former city manager Robert Rizzo, Mayor Oscar Hernandez, a former assistant city manager and five council members were arrested and charged with misappropriation of public funds.

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