ATLANTA -- New Orleans officials breathed a sigh of relief Saturday as voters overwhelmingly approved a refinancing of its $368.8 million of general obligation debt that will allow the cash-strapped city to continue operations.

A number of key business leaders had urged the city to declare bankruptcy, if the referendum did not pass, in lieu of implementing the massive layoffs or tax increases that would have been necessary to deal with a fiscal 1991 deficit of $13.5 million.

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