Indian Wells isn’t a normal city. Its coffers are fed by taxes paid by resorts and vacation rentals; its per capita income is more than double the state’s average, and its average property value is more than $1 million. That broad taxpaying base endowed the city and its redevelopment agency plenty of resources to provide what many would consider extravagant services. The police would check on vacation rentals, the city would host cocktail patio parties.

The city council wasn’t exempt from the perks, either. From their discretionary funds to a generous gift policy, the Indian Wells council members were comfortable. But austerity has come to town, leaving the city searching for a new identity.

After $325,000 in free tickets to events last year, the city council’s ability to take huge gifts and freebies has been axed, so have five staff positions, discretionary funds, and some of the over-the-top services. Yet, some say the cuts haven’t gone far enough.

From the Desert Sun:

For a town firmly convinced of its exceptionalism, this qualifies as an existential crisis.

After decades of throwing money around, the place that Lucy and Desi built has been sobered by the generous package of perks provided to its council members.

Incorporated 50 years ago as an exclusive haven for Hollywood golfers, Indian Wells provided a lush life for its residents: Wine-and-cheese cocktail parties, rear-yard trash pickup to keep those unsightly bins off the street, library book drop-off at the country club, vacation home checks by the police.

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