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In Michigan, a City Pleads for a Bankruptcy Option

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HAMTRAMCK, Mich. — Leaders of this city met for more than seven hours on a Saturday not long ago, searching for something to cut from a budget that has already been cut, over and over. This time they slashed money for boarding up abandoned houses — aside from emergencies, like vagrants or obvious rats, said William J. Cooper, the city manager. They shrank funds for trimming trees and cutting grass on hundreds of lots that have been left to the city. And Mr. Cooper is hoping that predictions of a ferocious snow season prove false; once state road funds run out, the city has set nothing aside to plow streets. "We can make it until March 1 — maybe," Mr. Cooper said of Hamtramck’s ability to pay its bills. Beyond that? The political leaders of this old working-class city beside Detroit are pleading with the state to let them declare bankruptcy — a desperate move the state is not even willing to admit as an option under the current circumstances.
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