Uniontown, PA is broke

Link: Small Pa. city broke but hopes to stay afloat

"We just have to work together to try and get this mess fixed," said Mayor Ed Fike, 67, who took office in January.

Fike, a U.S. mail contractor, said he was blindsided by the problems with the city's budget. He said he didn't know until taking office in January that the city's 2008 budget of about $7.7 million had a deficit of $1.3 million.

"I was overwhelmed. I was never in this building before I was elected," Fike said. "When you drive by City Hall or the courthouse it gives you a good feeling of ... security. You know that our wheels is all greased and they're all running right and little did I know that this was kind of the biggest farce that there ever was. The city was bankrupt."

Cities like Uniontown and even some larger ones in the state are suffering in part because of economic pressures that have been building for many years, said Rick Schuettler, deputy executive director of the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities. One factor is the reliance on property taxes and earned income taxes that generate little revenue for cities with aging populations and homeowners moving to the suburbs.