Who Comes Out on Top? California’s Cities Ranked for Fiscal Responsibility
A new financial health dashboard tool launched by the California State Auditor allows the public to compare the finances of 471 cities within California.
The hope is that this dashboard can help provide the kind of oversight needed to identify cities at risk of filing for bankruptcy or defaulting on municipal bonds. The dashboard found 18 fiscally challenged cities, while half of those surveyed are ranked with moderate to high risk of financial problems.
The dashboard takes a set of ten indicators from three years of data on 471 cities into account when calculating the score of each city. While this is an impressive tool for monitoring municipal fiscal health, as Marc Joffe points out it could be greatly improved by wider coverage and more timely data. Currently the dashboard’s data has to be manually rekeyed from PDF reports. Using machine-readable data for municipal reporting would vastly speed up the process and enable wider, more extensive analysis.
This valuable tool from the State Auditor demonstrates the importance of transparency and comparability when ensuring sound local government fiscal activity and preventing future fiscal calamities. However, for tools of this nature to function at their full potential, more municipal data needs to be in structured format.
Read more here.