Three small banks put off their TARP dividend payments

At least three troubled community banks have stopped paying dividends on $315.4 million worth of investments that they received from the government's financial rescue program. Short on cash and facing mounting losses on bad loans, they say postponing the payments will help them mend their balance sheets.

It's an interesting juxtaposition with last week's moves by giant banks like JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Goldman Sachs (GS) and others to repay nearly $68 billion from the Treasury Department's Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. While about two dozen regional and community banks have also repaid, the trio's postponements show that some smaller financial institutions are struggling mightily.