Fresno ranks No. 8 on list of fiscally healthy US cities

Fresno City Hall photo by Breanna Hardy

published on January 26, 2022 – 2:21 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The City of Fresno has fared well in its fiscal health with a healthy surplus compared to other U.S. municipalities, a recent financial report shows.

According to Truth in Accounting’s 2022 Financial State of the Cities, which surveys the fiscal health of the 75 largest municipalities in the country, Fresno ranked eighth on the chart with a $1,300 surplus per estimated taxpayer.

The ratings are based on the city’s fiscal 2020 audited financial report.

The City of Fresno earned a “B” grade for financial health with its $224.7 million on hand available to pay future bills, according to the report.

“Unlike most cities, Fresno had more than enough resources available, $224.7 million, to pay all of its bills, including public employees’ retirement benefits. This means Fresno’s elected officials truly balanced their budgets. When broken down, the amount available to pay future bills resulted in a surplus of $1,300 for each Fresno taxpayer,” the report states.

Though the city was financially secure before the pandemic, Fresno received support from federal COVID-19 related grants. With its surplus, plus the grants, the city will have the financial wherewithal to weather future health and economic crises, according to the report.

The City of Fresno has a total debt load of $628.7 million, according to the report. The city has $853.4 million in assets available to pay bills.

Even with federal assistance from the CARES Act and other COVID-19 related grants, most cities’ finances got worse.

The report found that 61 cities did not have enough money to pay their bills. These cities went into the pandemic in poor fiscal health and are likely to come of the crisis in a worse state, according to the report.

Washington, D.C. ranked first on the “Top Five Sunshine Cities” list in the report, having the best city finances in the U.S. with a $1.3 billion surplus and a $4,800 share for each taxpayer.

New York City ranked worst at No. 75 on the “Bottom Five Sinkhole Cities” for the sixth year in a row. Each taxpayer in the NYC would have to contribute $71,400 to pay off its $204.4 billion in bills.

The Top Five Sunshine Cities with their Taxpayer Surplus are:

  1. No. 1: Washington, D.C. ($4800)
  2. No. 2: Irvine, California (4,700)
  3. No. 3: Lincoln, Nebraska ($3,100)
  4. No. 4: Plano, Texas ($2,700)
  5. No. 5: Aurora, Illinois ($2,600)

The Bottom Five Sinkhole Cities and their Taxpayer Burdens are:

  1. No. 71: Portland, Oregon (-$24,900)
  2. No. 72: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (-$25,900)
  3. No. 73: Honolulu, Hawaii (-$31,700)
  4. No. 74: Chicago, Illinois (-$43, 100)
  5. No. 75: New York, New York (-$71,400)

This is the sixth annual Financial State of the Cities report completed by Truth in Accounting, which bills itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization interested in improving government financial reporting.

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