Report: Irvine, Stockton are America’s Most Fiscally Solvent Cities

Six years after becoming the largest city in the U.S. to file for bankruptcy, Stockton, California has been ranked as the second most fiscally solvent metropolis in the nation.

The latest rankings come from Truth in Accounting (TIA), a nonprofit organization that analyzes fiscal practices among state and local governments. It looked at data from 2016 among the 75 most populous cities in the U.S. It then calculated each city’s Taxpayer Burden or Taxpayer Surplus -- the amount each taxpayer would have to give to pay down all of the city’s debt or, conversely, how much money would be left over per resident after the bills are paid.

Stockton Turns It Around

According to TIA, Stockton has a taxpayer surplus of $298 million, which works out to $3,000 per resident. It received a B ranking from TIA.

Stockton has $433.3 million in available assets vs. $135.3 million in bills. Because its retirees lost their healthcare benefits during bankruptcy, it has no retiree healthcare obligations.

The Stockton Record delves deeper into Stockton’s fiscal standing and the proposed budget for 2018-2019 here.

Irvine is No. 1

Stockton’s fiscal standing was beat out by only one other California City: Irvine. The taxpayer surplus in Irvine is $414.2 million or $5,200 per taxpayer. There are $609.7 million in available assets to pay down $195.6 million in expenses. Hidden debt was estimated at $3.5 million. It too was given a B grade and determined to be the most fiscally healthy large city in the U.S.

Fresno Among the Top 10

Fresno came in at No. 9. Like Irvine and Stockton, it also received a B grade. According to TIA, the Taxpayer Surplus in Fresno comes out to $1,200 per resident.

San Francisco: Drowning in Debt With Little Transparency

Ranking near the bottom of the list was San Francisco, one of TIA’s so-called “sinkhole cities.” According to TIA, the city is “drowning in debt” with a Taxpayer Burden of $7.5 billion or $27,500 per resident. It was given an F.

TIA described the situation this way:

San Francisco’s financial problems are largely driven by runaway entitlement obligations in two categories: pensions and retiree healthcare benefits. The city has $5.7 billion in unfunded pension promises and $4.2 billion in unfunded retiree healthcare benefits. While San Francisco has promised these benefits, little money has been set aside to fund them.

These statistics are jarring, but what’s also alarming is that city government officials continue to hide significant amounts of retirement debt from their balance sheets, despite new rules to increase financial transparency. This skewed financial data gives residents a false impression of their city’s overall financial health.

Oakland’s Not Much Better

Oakland was the only other California city to receive an F grade. It has a taxpayer burden of $20,700 according to TIA.

Read the entire report here.

All data above was compiled and reported by Truth in Accounting. Report does not reflect statistics on all U.S. or California cities.