Survey: City Budgets Strained in 2018, but Finance Officers Express Optimism

The most-concerning finding the National League of Cities’ City Fiscal Conditions 2018 is that “general fund expenditures are outpacing revenues, a trend anticipated to continue into next year.”

NLC compiled data from 341 U.S. cities with populations of more than 10,000 to reach that conclusion. The survey also revealed that “all major tax sources grew slower in FY 2017 than in FY 2016, and all are expected to grow less than one percent in FY 2018.”

Despite these signs that cities appear maxed out on budget growth, 73 percent of city finance officers reported feeling better able to meet financial needs during 2018 than they did in 2017. This measure of fiscal optimism peaked at 82 percent in 2015 and ticked up slightly from 69 percent in 2017.

Looking to 2019 and beyond, survey respondents expect state governments will be more able to offer support when they start collecting significant sales taxes from online transactions and collect higher revenues due to provisions of the 2017 federal income tax overhaul.

You can read the full NLC report here.