News

Underlying government units report

July 17, 2018

Truth in Accounting has released a new analysis of the biggest underlying government units in the 10 most populous U.S. cities, including some of the nation’s largest counties and public school districts.

With the exception of New York City, most municipalities do not include in their annual financial report the finances of these large, local government units that city taxpayers are also responsible for, such as schools districts, transit and housing authorities.

This report takes into account these underlying government entities and provides residents and taxpayers in these cities with a more accurate and holistic view of their respective city’s finances. When the unfunded debt of these local government units is combined with both the municipal and state debt, city taxpayers are the hook for much more than they think.

For example, our Financial State of the Cities report released earlier this year found Chicago ranked No. 74 out of the 75 most populous U.S. cities with a Taxpayer Burden™ of -$45,200, which is each taxpayer’s share of municipal debt. Only New York City fared worse with a Taxpayer Burden of -$62,500.

However, when you combine the debts of these underlying government entities, the city and the state, Chicago’s Taxpayer Burden skyrockets to -$126,360, while New York City’s Taxpayer Burden rises to -$83,000.

As a result, the City of Chicago finds itself in significantly worse financial shape and its residents face the highest Taxpayer Burden in the country.

Following is a list with the Taxpayer Burden figures for the 10 cities. Click on the city name to see its two-page report, as well as a chart that breaks down the finances of the city’s underlying government entities.

10. Chicago (- $45,200)

  • Underlying government entities: -$30,760
  • Illinois: -$50,400
  • Total: -$126,360

9. New York City (-$62,500)

  • New York State: -$20,500
  • Total: -$83,000

8. Los Angeles (-$7,200)

  • Underlying government entities: -$25,206
  • California: -$21,600
  • Total: -$54,006

7. Philadelphia (-$30,200)

  • Underlying government entities: -$4,090
  • Pennsylvania: -$16,800
  • Total: -$51,090

6. San Jose (-$10,600)

  • Underlying government entities: -$10,810
  • California: -$21,600
  • Total: $43,010

5. San Diego (-$5,400)

  • Underlying government entities: $8,320
  • California: -$21,600
  • Total: -$35,320

4. Dallas (-$21,700)

  • Underlying government entities: $2,070
  • Texas: -$8,600
  • Total: -$32,370

3. Houston (-$12,100)

  • Underlying government entities: -$430
  • Texas: -$8,600
  • Total: -$21,130

2. San Antonio (-$3,000)

  • Underlying government entities: -$3,265
  • Texas: -$8,600
  • Total: -$14,865

1. Phoenix (-$5,300)

  • Underlying government entities: -$3,050
  • Arizona: -$3,500
  • Total: -$11,850

*Data is based on governments' comprehensive annual financial reports for the 2016 fiscal year.

 
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