Monday, February 09, 2009

84% of cities in money trouble

More than eight in ten cities are in financial trouble, up from 64% six months ago, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The recession is straining cities' ability to meet their financial needs, according to the National League of Cities. Some 84% of cities reported facing fiscal difficulties, the highest percentage since the group starting doing surveys in 1985.

The nation's cities are counting on billions of dollars from the economic stimulus package now being debated in the Senate.

2009 not looking better

Things will remain tough in 2009. Some 92% of the cities surveyed expected to have trouble meeting their city needs during this year. To cope, they are implementing hiring freezes and layoffs, delaying capital expenditures and instituting service cuts.

Some 69% have instituted hiring freezes or layoffs, while 42% are delaying or canceling infrastructure projects. Another 22% have instituted across the board cuts.

Cities are seeing their tax revenues decline as property values drop, shopping slows and unemployment rises. On top of that, nearly one in two city finance officers report difficulties in access to credit and/or bond financing.

"Cities are responding as best they can," said Donald Borut, the league's executive director. "Their citizens have increasing needs for services just at the same time that revenues are declining."

City finances tend to lag the overall economy by 12 to 24 months, the league said. The weakening economic conditions will be felt by cities through 2009 and likely through most of 2010, the league said


84% of cities in money trouble

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