* Bailout secured after parliamentary battle
* Deal averts threats to local services
* City mayor threatened shutdown unless deal reached
(Updates bailout amount, adds details from decree)
By Gavin Jones
ROME, Feb 28 Matteo Renzi's new Italian
government on Friday approved an emergency decree to bail out
Rome city council whose mayor had warned the capital would have
to halt essential services unless it got financial help.
The decree transfers 570 million euros ($787 million) to the
city to pay the salaries of municipal workers and ensure
services such as public transport and garbage collection.
Renzi, under pressure from critics who say Rome is getting
favourable treatment, attached conditions to the bailout.
Rome must spell out how it will rein in its debt, justify
its current levels of staff, seek more efficient ways of running
its public services and sell off some of its real estate, the
government decree said.
Rome's finances have been in a parlous state for years and
it has debts of almost 14 billion euros which it plans to pay
off gradually by 2048.
The city of some 2.6 million people has been bailed out by
the central government each year since 2008.
Critics say it is inefficiently run, plagued by strikes,
especially in its public transport and over-staffed. They accuse
local politicians of seeing the huge army of municipal employees
as a source of votes rather than as servants of the public.
The city has around 25,000 employees of its own with another
30,000 or so working for some 20 municipal companies providing
services running from electricity to garbage collection. ATAC,
which runs the city's loss-making buses and metros, employs more
than 12,000 staff, almost as many as national airline Alitalia.
Rome's administrators say it needs help with extra costs
associated with housing the central government, such as ensuring
public order for political demonstrations, and to provide
services for millions of tourists.
Away from the historic centre, a magnet for visitors from
around the world, the city's sprawling periphery is plagued by
poor transport links, crumbling roads and patchy public services
In recent weeks the so-called "Save Rome" decree had been
blocked in parliament due to filibustering by the Northern
League and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which
objected to several other measures incorporated in the package.
The decree was eventually withdrawn on Wednesday, to the
fury of Rome's Mayor Ignazio Marino, a US-trained surgeon and a
member of Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party. Marino
threatened to "block the city from Sunday" unless its finances
were guaranteed by Renzi.
City officials welcomed Friday's announcement, saying it
marked the beginning of a new phase. "We have to continue with
discipline, development and improving the efficiency of our
services," said Paolo Masini, a senior official of the
centre-left administration which took power last year.
Renzi, the outgoing mayor of Florence who became prime
minister this month, was quickly accused by centre-right
opponents of bowing to Marino's threats and favouring Rome
compared with other hard pressed Italian cities.
Mario Borghezio, a Northern League firebrand, said it showed
that the north of Italy was being treated as a "colony" by "Roma
ladrona" ("thieving Rome").
However Cabinet Undersecretary Graziano Delrio stressed to
reporters that the decree merely brought forward a transfer of
funds that had already been planned, as in other years, and was
needed to keep the capital afloat.
The new decree strips out some of the separate measures in
the original "Save-Rome" package and gives all town councils the
possibility to increase local taxes.
($1 = 0.7240 euros)
(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte, writing by Gavin Jones)