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Garfield Heights Placed Under State Financial Control

A just-completed state audit of Garfield Heights' books found a budget deficit, significant past due accounts, and money going out faster than it's coming in. All told, the city of about 28,000 is about one-point-nine million dollars in debt, and the state auditor has declared it to be in fiscal emergency.

Oversight and expenditures will be partly taken over by the state, and a recovery plan must be delivered and approved by the auditor's office - within 120 days.

Mayor Tom Longo says the city requested the audit , but he was surprised by the state's action. He says restoring fiscal solvency will be hard on taxpayers and property owners.

MAYOR TOM LONGO: "Well, the public is being stressed too. They're all suffering from increased costs. Housing values are going down. they can't get the money out of the homes that they could have three/four years ago, and they're being stretched so far they don't want to hear anything about a tax increase."

On the positive side, the mayor says, the fiscal emergency designation could be 'a blessing in disguise', because it forces city management to aggressively seek ways to solve its problems. He's meeting with employee unions to discuss wage concessions and other measures that might be taken to cut spending, including - possibly - laying off city workers.

Rick Jackson is a senior host and producer at Ideastream Public Media. He hosts the "Sound of Ideas" on WKSU and "NewsDepth" on WVIZ.