San Bernardino has officially filed for bankruptcy protection, three weeks after city leaders approved the action. Late Wednesday, the city filed an emergency petition with the federal bankruptcy court in Riverside.
City attorney James Penman said the move came a little ahead of schedule in order to avoid the possible seizure of city assets. He said an attorney who recently won a series of lawsuits against the city wanted his client’s money now.
“He was making moves to, we believe, get a writ of execution to serve on the city’s bank account for three lawsuits that had been settled, about $1.4 million," said Penman.
"If he had succeeded, the city would have been unable to pay employees on August 15th, the next payday. So we had to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection immediately.”
Councilman Robert Jenkins says the city now must submit a proposed operational budget to the court by the end of September; that’s when the current budget expires.
“We need the buy-in of all our employees and residents and try to be as unified as possible," said Jenkins. "If we start bickering and fighting, it’s just going to prolong the misery.”
The city is starting to renegotiate contracts with employee unions, including police officers and firefighters.
In a statement, San Bernardino’s interim city manager Andrea Travis-Miller said there will be no immediate reductions in city services as a result of the filing.