Corruption charges may affect city budget

Feb. 17, 2011 at 10:26 PM
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BELL, Calif., Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Council members in Bell, Calif., a city on the brink of insolvency, may not be able to vote on budget cuts because a judge ordered three members to stay away.

The three Bell City Council members, Mayor Oscar Hernandez, Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo and Councilman George Mirabal, are awaiting trial set for Wednesday on corruption charges, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The city is paralyzed by the court's ruling because the council is unable to vote on budget cuts that could save the city from its financial crisis, the Times reported.

The judge's order may mean the City Council can't meet until March, when a new council is elected, the Times reported.

Bell has defaulted on a $35 million bond and faces a potential deficit of $3.5 million to $4.5 million, the Times said.

Part of the reason Bell has a hard time dealing with the crisis is that the council has only convened three times in the last five months, the Times said.

Pedro Carrillo, the acting city administrator, said he could make budget cuts on his own that would tide over Bell until after the council election in March.

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