Chowchilla is struggling to survive.
Reeling from years of fiscal mismanagement and a crippling housing bust, the city has reduced its staff by more than one-third in the past 18 months, eliminated pay for City Council members and sold properties worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. But it may not be enough.
In what experts say was a highly unusual turn for the worse, the city in July defaulted on a $5.9 million bond that was used to build its new City Hall.
Things now are so bad that officials in Chowchilla, population 19,000, are discussing the possibility of disincorporating and turning over all services to Madera County. No California city has disincorporated in at least several decades.
The state controller's office, meanwhile, says it's monitoring the situation and has made several calls to city staff to see how it can help.
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