Government

Budgeting efficiency reveals 2016’s best-run cities in America

Patty Labadie

Patty Labadie

WalletHub, a leading personal finance website that helps consumers make smarter financial decisions, produced a report that compared 150 of the largest cities in the U.S. in regards to how well they are managed by their leaders.

 

The report finds that running a city is a tall order. Resources generally grow limited as population size increases, especially when such increases occur rapidly, so not all individual needs can or will be served. Not only must government officials navigate local politics, but they must also strive to balance the public’s interests with the city’s responsibilities and resources.

 

Consequently, city leaders must choose which services are essential, which agencies’ budgets to cut, whether and how high to raise taxes, among other important decisions that affect the daily lives of residents. Those decisions, in turn, translate into a city’s operating efficiency and overall quality of life.

 

In order to identify the best-run cities in America, WalletHub’s analysts compared 150 of the most populated cities across six key categories: 1) Financial Stability, 2) Education, 3) Health, 4) Safety, 5) Economy, and 6) Infrastructure & Pollution.

 

They evaluated these categories using 25 relevant metrics with corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the most optimal city management.

 

WalletHub then calculated “Overall City Services” scores using the weighted average across all metrics. Finally, they divided the “Overall City Services” score by the “Total Budget per Capita” dollar amount for each city, in order to construct a “Score per Dollar Spent” index, which they then used to rank the cities.

 

When asked to identify the top indicators that are used to evaluate how well a city is run, Greg D. Streib, Professor of Public Management & Policy at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University noted that, “Budget issues are most generalizable, revenues and expenditures per capita, for example. I would also be interested in performance-based management and data-based capacity and public outreach.”

 

Theodore Arapis, Assistant Professor of Public Administration at Villanova University added, “My personal interest in Public Finance and Budgeting forces me to pay greater attention to indicators that measure a city’s financial condition.”

 

At Questica, we specialize in providing budgeting software to the public sector. Both Questica Budget and Questica Performance represent proven COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) software solutions that are flexible and scalable.

 

Questica Budget offers one point of data entry and seamless integration into a city’s financial system, meaning that council-ready reports are easily available with Questica Budget’s powerful reporting tool. Questica Performance allows cities to establish and manage objectives, leveraging financial and statistical data from any number of sources to effectively measure performance.

 

Questica currently manages over $55 billion in annual public sector budgets. The WalletHub report states that “all cities work according to different models, and some, therefore, will perform far more optimally than others.” To find out how to optimize your city’s budget efficiency, request a demo of Questica’s solutions for government today.

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