Majority of U.S. cities finances worsened during beginning of COVID-19 pandemic

Tuesday, 25. January 2022 12:00

Chicago, Jan. 25, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The 2022 Financial State of the Cities (FSOC) surveys the fiscal health of the 75 largest municipalities in the United States. This report has been released today by Truth in Accounting (TIA), a think tank that analyzes government financial reporting. TIA analysts make their calculations using data from the fiscal year 2020 audited Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports on file in city halls across the country, which are not analyzed on this scale by any other organization. The fiscal year 2020 audited financial reports present the cities’ financial data during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Despite receiving federal assistance from the CARES Act and other COVID-19 related grants, the majority of cities’ finances worsened. Total debt among the 75 largest U.S. cities amounted to $357 billion at the end of the fiscal year 2020, which was $23.5 billion worse than the last fiscal year.

The 2022 FSOC report found that 61 cities did not have enough money to pay their bills. These 61 cities went into the COVID-19 pandemic in poor fiscal health, and they will probably come out of the crisis worse. The uncertainty surrounding this crisis makes it impossible to determine how much will be needed to maintain government services and benefits.

Each city has some form of a balanced budget requirement. This means that to balance the budget, elected officials should include the true costs of the government in their budget calculations.  However, these financial reports show that they did not do this, and have pushed costs onto future taxpayers.

There is some good news as the report found that 14 of the largest cities had more than enough money to pay their bills, a key indicator of long-term financial health. Washington, DC had the best city finances in the U.S. with a $1.3 billion surplus. If you were to divide that figure by the number of DC taxpayers,  hypothetically each taxpayer’s share is $4,800.

Not every city in the United States is so lucky. Many larger and older cities owe billions of dollars to unfunded retirement plans for public sector employees. New York City claimed the prize for worst municipal finances in the United States for the sixth year in a row. Every taxpayer in the Big Apple would have to pay $71,400 in order for the city to pay off all its bills. Chicago (second-worst in the nation) would need each taxpayer to pay $43,100. The average taxpayer burden across all 75 cities in the report works out to $7,731. 

“The bottom line is that the majority of cities went into the pandemic in poor fiscal health and they will most likely come out of it even worse,” says Sheila Weinberg, founder and CEO of Truth in Accounting. 

The full Financial State of the Cities report can be found online here. The full 75 city ranking is also included below:

Full Ranking Alphabetical

1. Washington, D.C. Taxpayer Surplus: $4,800

2. Irvine, CA Taxpayer Surplus: $4,700

3. Lincoln, NE Taxpayer Surplus: $3,100

4. Plano, TX Taxpayer Surplus: $2,700

5. Aurora, CO Taxpayer Surplus: $2,600

6. Tampa, FL Taxpayer Surplus: $2,300

7. Raleigh, NC Taxpayer Surplus: $2,200

8. Fresno, CA Taxpayer Surplus: $1,300

9. Charlotte, NC Taxpayer Surplus: $1,100

10. Wichita, KS Taxpayer Surplus: $900

11. Corpus Christi, TX Taxpayer Surplus: $800

12. Colorado Springs, CO Taxpayer Surplus: $300

13. Long Beach, CA Taxpayer Surplus: $100

14. Cleveland, OH Taxpayer Surplus: $29

15. Oklahoma City, OK Taxpayer Burden: $46

16. Stockton, CA Taxpayer Burden: $300

17. Tulsa, OK Taxpayer Burden: $300

18. Arlington, TX Taxpayer Burden: $700

19. Orlando, FL Taxpayer Burden: $900

20. Minneapolis, MN Taxpayer Burden: $1,100

21. Chula Vista, CA Taxpayer Burden: $1,200

22. Bakersfield, CA Taxpayer Burden: $1,200

23. Columbus, OH Taxpayer Burden: $1,200

24. Fort Wayne, IN Taxpayer Burden: $1,300

25. Toledo, OH Taxpayer Burden: $1,400

26. Greensboro, NC Taxpayer Burden: $1,500

27. Las Vegas, NV Taxpayer Burden: $1,600

28. Henderson, NV Taxpayer Burden: $2,300

29. Riverside, CA Taxpayer Burden: $2,300

30. Seattle, WA Taxpayer Burden: $2,800

31. Louisville, KY Taxpayer Burden: $3,000

32. San Antonio, TX Taxpayer Burden: $3,100

33. Saint Paul, MN Taxpayer Burden: $3,100

34. Virginia Beach, VA Taxpayer Burden: $3,400

35. Indianapolis, IN Taxpayer Burden: $3,500

36. Sacramento, CA Taxpayer Burden: $4,300

37. Denver, CO Taxpayer Burden: $4,700

38. Atlanta, GA Taxpayer Burden: $4,800

39. Memphis, TN Taxpayer Burden: $4,800

40. El Paso, TX Taxpayer Burden: $4,900

41. Santa Ana, CA Taxpayer Burden: $5,300

42. Mesa, AZ Taxpayer Burden: $6,200

43. Anchorage, AK Taxpayer Burden: $6,200

44. Los Angeles, CA Taxpayer Burden: $6,400

45. San Diego, CA Taxpayer Burden: $6,400

46. Albuquerque, NM Taxpayer Burden: $6,400

47. Phoenix, AZ Taxpayer Burden: $6,500

48. Anaheim, CA Taxpayer Burden: $6,600

49. Detroit, MI Taxpayer Burden: $7,600

50. Omaha, NE Taxpayer Burden: $7,700

51. Tucson, AZ Taxpayer Burden: $8,300

52. Fort Worth, TX Taxpayer Burden: $9,300

53. San Jose, CA Taxpayer Burden: $10,200

54. Jacksonville, FL Taxpayer Burden: $10,200

55. Austin, TX Taxpayer Burden: $10,300

56. Lexington, KY Taxpayer Burden: $10,500

57. Boston, MA Taxpayer Burden: $10,600

58. Dallas, TX Taxpayer Burden: $12,700

59. Kansas City, MO Taxpayer Burden: $12,800

60. Houston, TX Taxpayer Burden: $13,200

61. Miami, FL Taxpayer Burden: $13,800

62. Pittsburgh, PA Taxpayer Burden: $14,900

63. Milwaukee, WI Taxpayer Burden: $15,000

64. Oakland, CA Taxpayer Burden: $17,200

65. St. Louis, MO Taxpayer Burden: $17,500

66. Cincinnati, OH Taxpayer Burden: $18,200

67. San Francisco, CA Taxpayer Burden: $19,000

68. Nashville, TN Taxpayer Burden: $19,800

69. New Orleans, LA Taxpayer Burden: $19,900

70. Baltimore, MD Taxpayer Burden: $21,300

71. Portland, OR Taxpayer Burden: $24,900

72. Philadelphia, PA Taxpayer Burden: $25,900

73. Honolulu, HI Taxpayer Burden: $31,700

74. Chicago, IL Taxpayer Burden: $43,100

75. New York City, NY Taxpayer Burden: $71,400

 Albuquerque, NM Taxpayer Burden: $6,400

 Anaheim, CA Taxpayer Burden: $6,600

 Anchorage, AK Taxpayer Burden: $6,200

 Arlington, TX Taxpayer Burden: $700

 Atlanta, GA Taxpayer Burden: $4,800

 Aurora, CO Taxpayer Surplus: $2,600

 Austin, TX Taxpayer Burden: $10,300

 Bakersfield, CA Taxpayer Burden: $1,200

 Baltimore, MD Taxpayer Burden: $21,300

 Boston, MA Taxpayer Burden: $10,600

 Charlotte, NC Taxpayer Surplus: $1,100

 Chicago, IL Taxpayer Burden: $43,100

 Chula Vista, CA Taxpayer Burden: $1,200

 Cincinnati, OH Taxpayer Burden: $18,200

 Cleveland, OH Taxpayer Surplus: $29

 Colorado Springs, CO Taxpayer Surplus: $300

 Columbus, OH Taxpayer Burden: $1,200

 Corpus Christi, TX Taxpayer Surplus: $800

 Dallas, TX Taxpayer Burden: $12,700

 Denver, CO Taxpayer Burden: $4,700

 Detroit, MI Taxpayer Burden: $7,600

 El Paso, TX Taxpayer Burden: $4,900

 Fort Wayne, IN Taxpayer Burden: $1,300

 Fort Worth, TX Taxpayer Burden: $9,300

 Fresno, CA Taxpayer Surplus: $1,300

 Greensboro, NC Taxpayer Burden: $1,500

 Henderson, NV Taxpayer Burden: $2,300

 Honolulu, HI Taxpayer Burden: $31,700

 Houston, TX Taxpayer Burden: $13,200

 Indianapolis, IN Taxpayer Burden: $3,500

 Irvine, CA Taxpayer Surplus: $4,700

 Jacksonville, FL Taxpayer Burden: $10,200

 Kansas City, MO Taxpayer Burden: $12,800

 Las Vegas, NV Taxpayer Burden: $1,600

 Lexington, KY Taxpayer Burden: $10,500

 Lincoln, NE Taxpayer Surplus: $3,100

 Long Beach, CA Taxpayer Surplus: $100

 Los Angeles, CA Taxpayer Burden: $6,400

 Louisville, KY Taxpayer Burden: $3,000

 Memphis, TN Taxpayer Burden: $4,800

 Mesa, AZ Taxpayer Burden: $6,200

 Miami, FL Taxpayer Burden: $13,800

 Milwaukee, WI Taxpayer Burden: $15,000

 Minneapolis, MN Taxpayer Burden: $1,100

 Nashville, TN Taxpayer Burden: $19,800

 New Orleans, LA Taxpayer Burden: $19,900

 New York City, NY Taxpayer Burden: $71,400

 Oakland, CA Taxpayer Burden: $17,200

 Oklahoma City, OK Taxpayer Burden: $46

 Omaha, NE Taxpayer Burden: $7,700

 Orlando, FL Taxpayer Burden: $900

 Philadelphia, PA Taxpayer Burden: $25,900

 Phoenix, AZ Taxpayer Burden: $6,500

 Pittsburgh, PA Taxpayer Burden: $14,900

 Plano, TX Taxpayer Surplus: $2,700

 Portland, OR Taxpayer Burden: $24,900

 Raleigh, NC Taxpayer Surplus: $2,200

 Riverside, CA Taxpayer Burden: $2,300

 Sacramento, CA Taxpayer Burden: $4,300

 Saint Paul, MN Taxpayer Burden: $3,100

 San Antonio, TX Taxpayer Burden: $3,100

 San Diego, CA Taxpayer Burden: $6,400

 San Francisco, CA Taxpayer Burden: $19,000

 San Jose, CA Taxpayer Burden: $10,200

 Santa Ana, CA Taxpayer Burden: $5,300

 Seattle, WA Taxpayer Burden: $2,800

 St. Louis, MO Taxpayer Burden: $17,500

 Stockton, CA Taxpayer Burden: $300

Tampa, FL Taxpayer Surplus: $2,300

 Toledo, OH Taxpayer Burden: $1,400

 Tucson, AZ Taxpayer Burden: $8,300

 Tulsa, OK Taxpayer Burden: $300

 Virginia Beach, VA Taxpayer Burden: $3,400

 Washington, D.C. Taxpayer Surplus: $4,800

 Wichita, KS Taxpayer Surplus: $900


The Financial State of the Cities report is an in-depth study of the financial condition in America’s largest cities. Data for this report was derived from cities’ 2020 annual comprehensive financial reports. As of January 15, 2022, New Orleans, LA had not released their 2020 annual financial reports. Therefore, we were forced to use fiscal year 2019 information for this city.

Founded in 2002, Truth in Accounting is dedicated to educating and empowering citizens with understandable, reliable, and transparent government financial information. Sheila Weinberg is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 40 years of experience in the field.


Hannah Dusharm
Truth in Accounting
3125895100
hdusharm@truthinaccounting.org
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