Welcome to Desperationville, U.S.A., where the police in Oakland, Calif., can’t respond to burglaries due to budget cuts. Where public trash bins in Colorado Springs have been replaced with “Don’t litter” signs. Where you can buy a prison. Or a water park. Or a city hall.
America used to be the kind of country where cities could afford to keep the streetlights on and the parks mowed. But in many places, those days are gone — replaced by an era of local and state governments teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, reduced to increasingly absurd tactics just to stay solvent.
The combined local and state budget shortfalls since the the financial crisis began have skyrocketed into the high hundreds of billions of dollars — and cash-strapped cities and towns are doing just about anything to raise money.
You won’t believe the strange measures cities are taking to stay solvent.