State may swoop on Orange County debt

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The Independent Online
Orange County, one of the wealthiest counties in America, is poised to be rescued by the state of California in a move not seen since the days of the Depression.

The county was recently ordered to come up with a plan by 15 August to pay its $1.9bn debt or face the appointment of a state trustee.

A deepening of the financial crisis has increased the likelihood that the state of California will seize fiscal control and force it to pay its debt.

Orange County's four state senators are putting finishing touches to the legislation, which could be enacted as early as next month.

The county filed for bankruptcy in December after making wrong-way bets on interest rates with taxpayers' money.

Last month, voters rejected a half-cent increase in sales tax to alleviate the county's crisis, which has dragged on for eight months.

Since then, financial planners have proposed to divert funds from public transportation and public amenities such as water and sewage to pay debts.

Though a trustee cannot raise taxes without a vote,the measure could go some way to resolving the crisis.