WASHINGTONA survey of city officials by the Washington-based National League of Cities (NLC) found that 84 percent of respondents reported facing fiscal difficulties, the highest percentage since NLC began taking surveys in 1985, according to American City and County magazine. What's more, 92 percent of the respondents said they expect to have trouble meeting their cities' needs this year.

In response to the hard times, cities are implementing hiring freezes and layoffs, delaying capital expenditures and cutting services, according to the report.

Also, because city finances tend to lag behind the overall economy by 12 to 24 months, the financial downturn is expected to continue to affect municipal budgets at least through most of 2010.