Economic hard times are causing many municipalities to look for ways to reduce their payrolls, but none has taken it as far as the town of Maywood, California.
On Monday night, the Maywood City Council voted unanimously to fire all 100 city employees and contract out most services, including record-keeping, street maintenance, and parks and recreation, to the neighboring town of Bell.
“We will become 100% a contracted city,” Maywood’s interim city manager stated.
Even the Maywood police department will be disbanded. Those services will be provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, since a proposal earlier this month to merge Mayfield’s police department with that of Bell was met with angry protests by Bell residents.
It was the police department that largely got Maywood into its current financial troubles. Last month, the town was informed by the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority that it would no longer be able to obtain liability insurance, largely as a result of excessive claims filed against the police.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “The [Insurance Authority’s] action is yet another blow for the predominantly Latino city of 45,000 residents densely packed into about 1.2 square miles in the heavily industrial southeast part of Los Angeles County. Officials estimate about half the city’s residents are illegal immigrants.”
“Four years ago, the department faced a political outcry when it began running checkpoints that resulted in hundreds of cars being taken away from unlicensed illegal immigrants,” the Times explains. “The checkpoint sparked a political movement that brought a new council that was more sympathetic to illegal immigrants. But Maywood was back in the headlines when it declared itself a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants, making the town a target of conservative talk radio and TV news shows.”
Last year, California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced that he would seek a court order to impose reforms on the Maywood Police Department, after a sixteen-month investigation had revealed “gross misconduct and widespread abuse.” There have already been two police shootings since the start of 2010 that drew investigations by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The Los Angeles Times reports that town residents blame the current problems on “years of financial abuse and corruption” by the city council. Ironically, however, the city manager, attorney, and council members are the only Maywood employees who will remain on the payroll.
“You guys had the power to change it and you didn’t,” City Treasurer Lizeth Sandoval told the council at Monday’s meeting. “You single-handedly destroyed the city.”