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Bankruptcy Basics
Bankruptcy Judges Division
Administrative Office of the United States Courts
APRIL 2006
Revised Third Edition
For cases filed on or after October 17, 2005

Contents

Introduction

The Discharge in Bankruptcy

Chapter 7. Liquidation Under the Bankruptcy Code

Chapter 13. Individual Debt Adjustment

Chapter 11. Reorganization Under the Bankruptcy Code

Chapter 12. Family Farmer Bankruptcy

Chapter 9. Municipality Bankruptcy

Chapter 15. Ancillary and Other Cross-Border Cases

SCRA. Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act

SIPA. Securities Investor Protection Act

Bankruptcy Terminology


Chapter 9
Municipality Bankruptcy

Powers of the Debtor

Due to statutory limitations placed upon the power of the court in a municipal debt adjustment proceeding, the court is far less involved in the conduct of a municipal bankruptcy case (and in the operation of the municipal entity) while the debtor's financial affairs are undergoing reorganization. The municipal debtor has broad powers to use its property, raise taxes, and make expenditures as it sees fit. It is also permitted to adjust burdensome non-debt contractual relationships under the power to reject executory contracts and unexpired leases, subject to court approval, and it has the same avoiding powers as other debtors. Municipalities may also reject collective bargaining agreements and retiree benefit plans without going through the usual procedures required in chapter 11 cases.

A municipality has authority to borrow money during a chapter 9 case as an administrative expense. 11 U.S.C. 364, 901(a). This ability is important to the survival of a municipality that has exhausted all other resources. A chapter 9 municipality has the same power to obtain credit as it does outside of bankruptcy. The court does not have supervisory authority over the amount of debt the municipality incurs in its operation. The municipality may employ professionals without court approval, and the professional fees incurred are reviewed only within the context of plan confirmation.