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Desert Hot Springs Faces Budget Crisis

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Photo: Video by kmir6.com

Desert Hot Springs Faces Budget Crisis

By Angela Monroe. CREATED Nov 13, 2013

 DESERT HOT SPRINGS -- The city of Desert Hot Springs is in dire financial straits, short more than three million dollars.

City leaders are trying to find ways to avoid bankruptcy, again.
The city manager told us the city knew it was spending more than it was taking in, but they didn't think they were this far in the red. 
Now city leaders are brainstorming cost-saving measures to try to end the fiscal year in the black.
 
The Desert Hot Springs budget is in the red, a for some residents like Ernesto Acosta that's not a surprise.
"The city budget every year, I hear bad news," said Acosta.
"Seems to be normal with a lot of cities now," said Desert Hot Springs resident, John Murphy.
Ron Vargas has spent 25 years in the city, and sees progress.
"I was a little surprised because of all the building we're having, the improvements with the infrastructure," said Vargas.
That played a part in Desert Hot Springs budget troubles.
"What happened was the economy, what happened was the condition of where we are in infrastructure, the money we had to spend to improve our roads," said Desert Hot Springs Interim City Manager, Bob Adams.
The city hoped the economy would bounce back, but it didn't.
Resident John Murphy can see how that happened, "You had a lot of foreclosures going on so people weren't paying property taxes."
Adams has had the job of interim city manager for a only a couple months, but is trying to help the city bounce back.
"We have a terrible cash flow problem that by March we could be out of money, out of cash," said Adams.
So how serious is the gap between what the city spends and brings in?  
"It appears we may be spending anywhere from three to seven million this year more than we're taking in," said Adams.
Residents worry what they could lose with public safety is at the top of the list.
"The fire protection and police protection, that's the number one thing," said Vargas.
"The police is very good lately, they're doing very good job," said Acosta.
They've got some ideas to save money.
"Revamp how we pay our salary benefits for example, how much we pay our contractors for example, and anything else, everything is on the table right now," said Adams.
Residents are hopeful the city can avoid bankruptcy.
"I think we've progressed so much in the past few years, that it would be a shame to go backwards," said Vargas.
"Everything can be fixed if you've got a good management," said Acosta.
In Tuesday night's budget meeting, they brainstormed more than 100 ideas to try to cut costs.
They will continue that discussion at the next meeting next Tuesday.