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09/27/2011

Cities cutting staff, delaying projects, raising fees, national study says

This, from The Associated Press today:

More than half of U.S. cities have cut staff, canceled construction projects or raised fees this year, according to a report from the National League of Cities that catalogs the vast damage from shrunken property- and income-tax revenue.

Cities are struggling from the same problems that have left the national economy sputtering: high unemployment, a depressed housing market and weak consumer spending. Those factors have reduced the taxes that cities collect for a fifth straight year. Many have had to make up the gap by laying off employees, freezing pay, cutting services, raising fees or suspending building projects.

Two-thirds of city finance officers said they had delayed or canceled public-works projects this year. Two in five reported raising fees for city services. One in five had cut spending on public safety. Nearly one in three had laid off staffers.

"We hoped the worst would be over at this point, but given where the economic considerations are, that seems to be very unclear here in the fall of 2011," said Christopher Hoene, director of the league’s research arm and one of the report’s authors.

 

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