Chicago ranks No. 2 among largest U.S. cities that lack funds to pay debts
Chicago ranks second worst among the 75 largest cities in the United States for the handling of its finances, according to a Truth in Accounting (TIA) analysis of municipal data released this month.
The nonprofit group, which promotes financial transparency in government, gave Chicago a grade of "F" for its fiscal policies. The amount of revenue the city needs to pay its bills is $32.5 billion, or $36,000 per taxpayer, according to the analysis.
The debt level does not include liabilities tallied by other public agencies in Chicago, including Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Transit Authority.
The numbers are based on audited annual financial reports filed in the 2017 fiscal year. Altogether, the 75 largest cities have a cumulative shortfall to pay off all their debts amounting to $7,500 per taxpayer, according to TIA.
Sixty-three of the 75 cities studied by TIA lack sufficient funds to pay off all their debts, including promised pension benefits for public employees.
“Over the last year, we found that many city leaders have failed to address the structural problems weakening public financial systems, instead plugging the holes with short-term fixes,” said TIA CEO Sheila Weinberg in a prepared statement. “When the bills come due, these cities are going to face a lose-lose dilemma: renege on promised benefits to public servants, or else fix the problem on the back of future taxpayers.”
Grading the fiscal state of the largest U.S. cities
|Rank||City||Money Available (or Needed) to Pay Bills (in Billions)||Surplus (or Debt Burden) per Taxpayer||Grade|
|1||New York City||-$185.5||-$64,100||F|
|17||Fort Worth, Texas||-$3.1||-$12,500||D|
|19||San Jose, Calif.||-$3.4||-$10,200||D|
|21||Kansas City, Mo.||-$1.4||-$9,100||D|
|32||Virginia Beach, Va.||-$0.9||-$5,900||D|
|38||Santa Ana, Calif.||-$0.6||-$5,100||D|
|43||El Paso, Texas||-$0.9||-$4,500||C|
|49||Chula Vista, Calif.||-$0.3||-$3,000||C|
|51||St. Paul, Minn.||-$0.3||-$2,900||C|
|56||Colorado Springs, Colo.||-$0.3||-$2,000||C|
|58||Fort Wayne, Texas||-$0.1||-$1,400||C|
|59||Long Beach, Calif.||-$0.2||-$1,300||C|
|60||Corpus Christi, Texas||-$0.1||-$1,100||C|