Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/29/2012 12:38:07 PM PST

RIALTO – It was late February in 2010 when former City Administrator Henry Garcia issued a warning about the city’s finances.

Rialto, he said, had a “36-month window” before it faced a financial crisis brought on by a gasping economy and skyrocketing public employee costs.

Garcia has since moved on to a $400,000 job as city manager in Moreno Valley.

Officials here are still staring at the window.

In early December the City Council voted to place an extension of the 8 percent utility-users tax on the March ballot.

A resolution for the council vote said “an emergency exists in the finances of the city of Rialto” due in part to a decrease of revenues in each of the past six fiscal years and the rising costs of providing city services.

Indeed, even as San Bernardino trudges through Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, the Finance Department here has warned that without an extension of the utility-users tax, which brings in roughly $11 million annually, Rialto could see massive cuts to public safety and other services in order to avoid bankruptcy.

“I think the community’s perception has changed a bit,” City Administrator Mike Story said. “They love us, but they can’t afford us. We have to be paying for our own stuff.”

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