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U.S. mayors struggle with budget woes

Jan. 22, 2011 at 4:36 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The city officials who gathered in Washington this week for the U.S. Conference of Mayors were a worried group, talking about layoffs and aid cuts.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said he was able to balance his own budget through "brutal" measures such as cutting 1,200 jobs and raising property and sales taxes, The New York Times reported. But he is worried that trouble at other levels of government could hurt the city.

"It's what I refer to as a triple threat," he said. "I'm concerned about budget deficits at the state, I'm concerned about budget deficits at the federal government, and our local school district."

The recession has hit most urban areas hard and recovery could be slow. IHS Global Insight prepared a forecast that said employment in 105 U.S. metropolitan areas would not bounce back to previous highs until 2015. In 32, including Detroit, recovery could take a decade longer.

Some cities are considering bankruptcy, and one -- Vallejo, Calif. -- has actually filed.

"I came in full of idealism -- I was going to change my city," Bridgeport, Conn., Mayor Bill Finch said. "You get involved in government because you want to do more for the people, you want to show them that government can work and local government, by and large, really does work for the people -- directly, you can't hide. But then you say you've got to pay the same amount of taxes, and you're going to get less."

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