The city of Chowchilla flat out broke

FRESNO, Calif.

The city of Chowchilla has taken painful steps this year to tackle serious financial trouble.

Mayor Jim Kopshever said, "We've done a significant amount of layoffs, personnel issues, which was a big one. That's the one that hurts the most."

The city has eliminated more than 30 positions and instituted furlough days for all remaining employees, except police. City council members are now working for free as they try to find other solutions to save money. They're considering everything from raising taxes to shutting down city hall and moving into empty rooms at the police department.

"The council is very strong on the idea of everything is on the table," said Mayor Kopshever. "Some of the information that's gone out to the media is that we're talking about disincorporation the city and all that. We're not talking about that, but that is the final option that is on the table."

Mayor Jim Kopshever says the city is facing a half million dollar deficit because of the housing crisis, a lack of sales tax revenue, and major accounting mistakes by former city officials. He also admits, Chowchilla may have been caught up in the nationwide excitement of the housing boom when it built an eight million dollar civic center.

Mayor Kopshever adds, "If your question is, did we do the right thing at the right time? Hindsight is 20/20."

Now as the city focuses on the future, the community has stepped up to help. Parents, like Dee Grissom, even volunteered to maintain little league fields themselves when the parks and recreation department essentially shut down.

"It makes you proud that your community could come together and help where the city couldn't do certain things," said Grissom. "Because you don't want to see programs like that for the children fall out."

Grissom just hopes to see a positive change soon. "I plan on being here the rest of my life. So I hope that Chowchilla pulls out of this."

The city of Chowchilla is encouraging residents to weigh in on the budget during a meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the civic center.

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