63 of the biggest cities don’t have enough money to pay their bills

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The majority of the U.S.’s 75 most populous cities lack enough funds to pay their bills, but the remaining 12 have budget surpluses, according to a new report.

The 2020 Financial State of the Cities report, from Truth in Accounting, a think tank that analyzes government financial reporting, examined the fiscal health of the 75 largest municipalities in the U.S.. The data comes from the fiscal year 2018 audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports on file in city halls across the country.

The report found that 12 of the largest cities have more assets than obligations, a key indicator of long-term financial health. The remaining 63 cities carried varying levels of debt, many of them in the billions of dollars.

New York City claimed the prize for worst municipal finances in the country for the third consecutive year. Every New York City taxpayer would have to pay $63,100 in order for the Big Apple to pay off all its bills. Chicago (which ranked second-worst in the nation) would need each taxpayer to pay $37,100. The average taxpayer burden across all 75 cities in the report is $7,040.

At the other end of the scale was Irvine, California, which has the best city finances in the U.S. with a $380.4 million surplus. Divided by the number of Irvine taxpayers, each Irvine taxpayer’s share would be $4,100.

“We have good news this year,” said Truth in Accounting CEO Sheila Weinberg in a statement. “The cities are finally reporting all of their liabilities on their balance sheets, including those related to retiree health care benefits. The bad news is for every $1 of promised retiree health care benefits, the 75 cities have only set aside 13 cents to fund these promises.”

The full 75-city ranking is below:

1. Irvine taxpayer surplus: $4,100
2. Washington, D.C. taxpayer surplus: $3,500
3. Charlotte taxpayer surplus: $3,400
4. Fresno taxpayer surplus: $3,200
5. Plano taxpayer surplus: $2,800
6. Stockton taxpayer surplus: $2,600
7. Lincoln taxpayer surplus: $2,500
8. Aurora taxpayer surplus: $2,200
9. Arlington taxpayer surplus: $2,100
10. Tampa taxpayer surplus: $1,700
11. Raleigh taxpayer surplus: $1,400
12. Tulsa taxpayer surplus: $100
13. Corpus Christi taxpayer burden: $300
14. Oklahoma City taxpayer burden: $400
15. Long Beach taxpayer burden: $500
16. Greensboro taxpayer burden: $700
17. San Antonio taxpayer burden: $1,100
18. Wichita taxpayer burden: $1,200
19. Louisville taxpayer burden: $1,300
20. Bakersfield taxpayer burden: $1,600
21. Fort Wayne taxpayer burden: $1,700
22. Minneapolis taxpayer burden: $1,900
23. Henderson taxpayer burden: $1,900
24. Las Vegas taxpayer burden: $2,100
25. Virginia Beach taxpayer burden: $2,100
26. Colorado Springs taxpayer burden: $2,300
27. Chula Vista taxpayer burden: $2,300
28. Orlando taxpayer burden: $2,300
29. Saint Paul taxpayer burden: $2,300
30. Riverside taxpayer burden: $3,300
31. Austin taxpayer burden: $3,300
32. Indianapolis taxpayer burden: $3,500
33. Memphis taxpayer burden: $3,700
34. El Paso taxpayer burden: $3,900
35. Los Angeles taxpayer burden: $4,000
36. Toledo taxpayer burden: $4,100
37. San Diego taxpayer burden: $4,500
38. Sacramento taxpayer burden: $4,600
39. Columbus taxpayer burden: $4,800
40. Cleveland taxpayer burden: $5,100
41. Detroit taxpayer burden: $5,100
42. Mesa taxpayer burden: $5,300
43. Santa Ana taxpayer burden: $5,400
44. Seattle taxpayer burden: $5,400
45. Phoenix taxpayer burden: $5,500
46. Albuquerque taxpayer burden: $5,800
47. Anaheim taxpayer burden: $6,200
48. Denver taxpayer burden: $6,500
49. Omaha taxpayer burden: $7,100
50. Anchorage taxpayer burden: $7,800
51. Tucson taxpayer burden: $8,100
52. Jacksonville taxpayer burden: $8,500
53. Lexington taxpayer burden: $9,100
54. Dallas taxpayer burden: $9,400
55. San Jose taxpayer burden: $9,400
56. Kansas City, Missouri taxpayer burden: $9,800
57. Atlanta taxpayer burden: $9,900
58. Boston taxpayer burden: $10,200
59. Miami taxpayer burden: $10,600
60. Houston taxpayer burden: $11,600
61. Fort Worth taxpayer burden: $12,300
62. Milwaukee taxpayer burden: $12,800
63. St. Louis taxpayer burden: $14,500
64. Pittsburgh taxpayer burden: $15,600
65. Cincinnati taxpayer burden: $15,600
66. Baltimore taxpayer burden: $16,000
67. San Francisco taxpayer burden: $17,000
68. Nashville taxpayer burden: $18,400
69. Portland taxpayer burden: $18,400
70. Oakland taxpayer burden: $18,600
71. New Orleans taxpayer burden: $18,800
72. Philadelphia taxpayer burden: $25,500
73. Honolulu taxpayer burden: $26,400
74. Chicago taxpayer burden: $37,100
75. New York City taxpayer burden: $63,100

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