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Largest cities receive mixed grades for financial stewardship

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(The Center Square) – A report on the financial statuses of U.S. cities gave Florida’s largest mixed grades.

The 2024 Financial State of the Cities report by Truth in Accounting gave Jacksonville and Miami poor marks and Orlando and Tampa passing grades.

The methodology is to examine the cities’ bills, their respective number of taxpayers and determine if there is burden or surplus for each. Grades of “A” or “B” are given to governments making their balanced budget requirements; “C” for passing if it comes close; and “D” and “F” when it is not balanced and there are significant taxpayer burdens.

According to the report, Florida’s largest city, Jacksonville, gets a “D” grade and an overall ranking of 65th. Its financial situation has worsened by almost $1 billion ($984.6 million) and the taxpayer burden is $11,200.

Investment market values negatively impacted the city’s pension investments, and the report notes the city had only set aside 47 cents for every dollar of promised pension benefits. In comparison, only 11 cents per dollar was set aside for retiree health care benefits. Decreased COVID-19 relief funds and slower tax collections could worsen the city’s financial health.

Miami also received a “D” grade, ranked No. 69 nationally, with the report stating that the city’s debts far exceed its ability to pay. The city only has $890.1 million available to pay $3.2 billion worth of bills, causing a shortfall of $2.3 billion.

The report says Miami would need $15,500 from each taxpayer to pay its outstanding debts. The city has also not set aside funds for promised retiree health care benefits.

Tampa has a taxpayer surplus of $1,500, a “B” grade and an overall ranking of 10th. The city had $1.7 billion to pay $1.5 billion in bills. However, the report notes the city’s surplus was $189.7 million, a decrease of $382.2 million.

Orlando received a “C.” It has a taxpayer burden of $800, an $81.7 million shortfall in paying its debts, with the report noting that despite increased tax collections and federal COVID-19 relief funds, the city’s pension investment values decreased.