Author: Christiana McFarland

How City Fiscal Conditions Changed in 2018

This is an excerpt from our new City Fiscal Conditions report. The 2018 City Fiscal Conditions survey indicates that slightly more finance officers than last year are optimistic about the fiscal capacity of their cities. However, the level of optimism is still far below recent years. Tax revenue growth is experiencing a year-over-year slowdown, with

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Sacramento – Urban Region, Rural Economic Driver

This blog post summarizes a case study from NLC’s Bridging the Urban-Rural Economic Divide report. This post is part of a series about reducing the divide between urban and rural communities. California, the state with the highest urban population density, has a capital city that is largely rural. Eighty five percent of Sacramento’s land area is rural

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Perspectives on the Urban-Rural Divide

This is the first post in a series about reducing the divide between urban and rural communities. The facts are stark. Economic change and recovery in our nation have resulted in vastly different opportunities and outcomes for individuals and families based on where they live. An urban-rural divide narrative is solidifying around these trends. It’s

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What is a Fiscally Healthy City?

In February 2015, the city of Stockton, California, exited municipal bankruptcy. One core way that the city achieved fiscal solvency was by cutting services. Although this approach was necessary given the circumstances, fiscal health came with a price. As it turns out, balancing the budget ran counter to alleviating income and racial disparities. “We cut

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Reclaiming Our Local Democracy

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, the city is not permitted to extend its municipal broadband service to woefully underserved rural neighbors, despite widespread support from people who live there. The city of St. Petersburg, Florida, is prevented from regulating the plastic bags and drinking straws that litter their waterways and harm wildlife. In every case, these cities

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Bridging the Urban-Rural Economic Divide

The national urban-rural divide narrative is one that touts (or bemoans) the all-consuming growth of our nation’s largest cities and laments rural communities as devoid of economic potential. But this isn’t the whole story. In a challenge to the conventional narrative, Bridging the Urban-Rural Economic Divide finds that stronger links between urban and rural areas are key to spurring local,

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Why a Regional Bid May Land HQ2

Proposals to capture one of the most coveted economic development deals in history — Amazon’s second headquarters, or HQ2 — are due. While some cities (here and here) have not been swayed to join the hunt, there are no doubt hundreds of submissions, and nearly the same amount of speculation about which one of these

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Is Fiscal Growth Slowing in Cities?

When the Great Recession hit in America, city governments felt the effects acutely. Growth in municipal budgets contracted noticeably as hiring freezes, service changes, and even bankruptcies rolled across the country. Now, that continuous fiscal growth may be slowing, according to a new report. NLC’s 2017 City Fiscal Conditions, a survey of city finance officers, reveals

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The Untold Story of Mid-Sized Economies

The National League of Cities’ latest report, Local Economic Conditions: The Untold Story of the Varied Middle, finds that 84 percent of cities say their local economies have improved since 2016. The new analysis reveals a dynamic economic landscape that has given rise to five distinct types of local economies: a highly rural cluster; a

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Putting Your City’s Pension Plan in Context

Pensions play a critical role in the ability of local governments to attract and retain the workforce needed to meet citizen demands. The costs associated with this employee benefit, however, can be substantial. In fact, a recent National League of Cities (NLC) survey revealed that over the past year the cost of pensions increased in

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