Fresno Has a Message San Francisco Needs to Hear

John Kabateck
President, Kabateck Strategies


Like Harold Lloyd hanging from a building clock, this was once a city that only made news for its tenuous grip on financial solvency.

No longer. Now, Fresno is the fifth-best-managed city in the nation, according to the recently released Financial State of the Cities report from Truth in Accounting. 

The report examined the financial health of 75 of the nation’s largest cities by running them through the fiscal blood test of how much unfunded liability (pension, health-care costs) every municipality is carrying.

Stand up and take a bow, Irvine, California, you came in best in the nation for the prudent management of your taxpayers’ money. Keep sitting San Jose, 57th; Oakland, 69th; and San Francisco, 71st.  Only Honolulu (72), Philadelphia (73), Chicago (74), and New York City (75) were worse than the City by the Bay.

The rest of the California delegation, from best to worst, were Long Beach (17), Bakersfield (19), Chula Vista (27), Riverside (29), Sacramento (31), San Diego (37), Santa Ana (38), Los Angeles (46), and Anaheim (50).

The reason for Fresno’s rebound?

In an article titled, Why Fresno avoided bankruptcy, unlike Stockton, Calpensionsoffers a big reason,  “The main reason Fresno pensions have remained fully funded: The city’s public employee unions have accepted comparatively low retirement benefits, a particularly important concession by the police and firefighters who are a big part of the budget.”

Speaking of Stockton, nice rebound team, you came in sixth best in the nation for your handling of the city’s books.

Truth in Accounting’s report has Irvine with $377 million available to pay future bills. San Francisco? It needs $6.3 billion it needs to meet future obligations.

What does it all mean for the citizens of better-managed cities? Repaved roads, better schools, modern libraries, just to name a few things.

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