The report sought out “to determine what ... overlapping financial entities mean for taxpayers’ bottom line.” Truth in Accounting said its purpose was to “calculate the various bills (and surpluses, when available) at the city government level and divide them out to determine a per-Taxpayer Burden.”
The two cities with the highest burden: Chicago and New York City; Chicago’s combined taxpayer burden: $119,110; New York City’s combined taxpayer burden: $85,600.
Chicago has been a hotbed for such burdens.
The Chicago City Council approved $2.4 billion in tax subsidies for two major developments in early April. Protesters gathered at City Hall chanting against the deals. Critics said the projects are in prosperous parts of Chicago and developers should pay for infrastructure improvements, not taxpayers.
- Chicago’s combined Taxpayer Burden: $119,110
- New York City’s combined Taxpayer Burden: $85,600
- Los Angeles’ combined Taxpayer Burden: $56,390
- Philadelphia’s combined Taxpayer Burden: $50,120
- San Jose’s combined Taxpayer Burden: $43,120
- San Diego’s combined Taxpayer Burden: $35,410
- Dallas’ combined Taxpayer Burden: $33,490
- Houston’s combined Taxpayer Burden: $22,940
- San Antonio’s combined Taxpayer Burden: $16,660
- Phoenix’s combined Taxpayer Burden: $13,290
Forbes reported that the city’s taxpayer burden is attached to unfunded retirement obligations amassed over of a number of years: $39 billion in retirement benefits have been promised; $28 billion in pension and $842.9 million in retiree health care benefits haven’t been funded.
Lower in debt were Los Angeles and Philadelphia; Los Angeles’ combined Taxpayer Burden: $56,390; Philadelphia’s combined Taxpayer Burden: $50,120.
“The largest cities in the U.S. issue so-called ‘Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports,’ but most of them aren't so comprehensive,” Bill Bergman, Truth in Accounting’s director of research, told Fox News via email.
The report questioned if cities’ annual financial reports “comprehensively track municipal accounts such as school districts, transit agencies, utility systems, etc.”
Annual financial reports “for a city doesn’t present the full picture of their fiscal position, and is deceptive to the public,” the report said.
Founded in 2002, the mission statement of Truth in Accounting is “to educate and empower citizens with understandable, reliable, and transparent government financial information.”