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City Fiscal Conditions 2023

October 19, 2023

Three years after the pandemic outbreak, cities have recovered and have maintained a largely positive outlook about their near-term fiscal future. The 2023 City Fiscal Conditions report analyzes data on a total of 820 cities (including the responses from 533 city finance officers from municipalities of various population sizes). Here are four key takeaways from this year's report:Cautious budgeting resulted in better preparation: The cautious approach by many cities in 2023 yielded increased reserves and limited spending, demonstrating that local governments remain good stewards of public dollars.  Better able to weather inflation: Despite the challenge of inflation, the average city experienced more than a six percent increase in general fund revenues. Inflation is more manageable and cities are reaping some benefits of lower inflation.    Federal aid had a positive Impact on city budgets: Direct federal aid through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the bipartisan infrastructure law was among the factors that had a positive impact on cities' ability to balance their 2023 budgets. Planning for uncertainties: Making it through a strong 2022 fiscal year, our survey analysis reveals that many cities are still very cautious in their budgeting. They anticipate potential risks and uncertainties in the post-COVID era as they plan for the current and next fiscal year. Among the concerns for local leaders is the expected end of federal funding through ARPA.  

State of the Cities 2023

July 21, 2023

In its 10th year, the State of the Cities report explores U.S. municipalities' most urgent challenges and their leaders' main objectives and strategies for improving the quality of life of their residents. To answer these questions, the authors examined data extracted from State of the City speeches given by mayors from a sample of U.S. cities, census data on U.S. cities and sentiments of residents in cities across America.The five sections of the report focus on the top five themes that emerged from the annual mayoral speeches: Infrastructure, Budget/Management, Public Safety, Economic Development, and Housing. For each theme, we provide an overview of the main topics discussed by the mayors, as well as some examples and statistics that illustrate their perspectives and challenges.

Roadmap To Repair: A Guide to How Cities Can Acknowledge and Address the History of Harm to Indigenous Peoples, Rebuild Trust, and Repair Relationships

July 14, 2022

The National League of Cities envisions cities and towns that are welcoming and that equitably meet the needs of all their constituents. We want to create a world in which Indigenous Peoples' contributions, culture, and history are respected, and where policies, practices, and procedures improve outcomes for Indigenous People and Communities. Local leaders are strongly encouraged to explore the history of Indigenous Peoples in their cities, towns, and villages so they can reconcile their past and proactively promote healing and justice for Tribal Nations.The Roadmap to Repair offers guidance to municipal leaders on acknowledging past harm and intentionally moving toward repair. This resource will help guide critical work and efforts in repairing relationships, but also help frame discussions on how to create a more equitable world for everyone.

Democracies Thrive When Cities Vote: Playbook for Nonpartisan Voter Engagement

March 1, 2022

The right to vote is a critical part of American democracy. Protecting that right is more important now than ever, as hundreds of bills threaten to make voting more difficult for residents in dozens of states across the country. Democracy is not fully realized when lawmakers impose barriers that result in disenfranchisement and prevent residents from having critical influence on issues such as schools, parks, housing, police and transportation. But city leaders can – and already are – leading the way to protect the democratic rights of their residents.  This playbook for nonpartisan voter engagement provides local leaders with specific recommendations on actions they can take to move their communities toward 100% democratic participation. It covers three key areas – voter education, voter engagement and voter access – in which residents, particularly those from marginalized communities, have historically faced barriers to voting.  Democratic participation has historically been viewed as a national challenge, but cities, towns and villages have the unique opportunity to be their residents' strongest advocates in increasing civic participation. Download the guide to learn more about how your city can take action to address critical voting issues.

On the Frontlines of Today’s Cities: Trauma, Challenges and Solutions

November 10, 2021

Local officials work at the level of government closest to the people, and with that comes great responsibility and great challenge. While public officials at the state and federal level have faced harassment and threats for decades, this trend has now made its way to cities, with local leaders on the frontlines of these challenges. Driven by increasing polarization, the spread of mis- and disinformation and the growing influence and power of social media, local officials face everything from racist, homophobic attacks online to city council meetings that devolve into screaming matches. The COVID-19 pandemic, racial reckoning and other recent national crises pushed many things to the extreme and threats and harassment against local leaders are no exception. While a certain amount of disagreement is a healthy part of a functioning democracy, civil discourse in America has been increasingly in decline. Eighty-seven percent of surveyed local officials have noticed an increase in levels of harassment, threats and violence during their time in office.While more than 8 in 10 surveyed local officials have experienced some form of harassment, threats and violence, fewer than half work in an office with a strategy to handle these incidents. This report sheds light on the impact felt by local officials and their communities across the country and offers a three-pronged approach to help keep them safe from threats, while maintaining their mental and physical wellbeing.

Navigating the Political Landscape for Early Childhood Success

October 21, 2021

All Elected Officials Have a Role to Play in Early Childhood SuccessLocal government has a key role in ensuring all young children have the resources and opportunities to reach their full potential and with their families, live healthy and prosperous lives. Understanding how to navigate one's city governance structure is essential to building strong and effective programs, policies, and practices for families and their young children, prenatal through 8 years of age.The Women in Municipal Government (WIMG) Constituency Group has endorsed the findings of the Institute for Youth, Education and Families (YEF).

Ready to Rebuild: Projects Ready to Move Across the U.S.

June 4, 2021

As Congress debates the President's proposed American Jobs Plan (AJP) and an infrastructure infusion, the National League of Cities (NLC) met with city leaders across the United States to ask one simple question: "What is your top infrastructure priority?"  From the smallest to largest communities, every place has a story to tell, and Ready to Rebuild shows a range of transportation, water, broadband and workforce projects across the country from communities of all sizes. While projects are different, the message from local officials is the same: infrastructure is a job worth doing, but in most places, it's now beyond what the local government can handle on their own. Far worse, the perpetual waiting game in Washington means the risk and consequences are building up to an emergency spill over point. Most local governments know exactly what needs to be done to fix their infrastructure, but they simply can't afford it. 

City Profile on Racial Equity Boston, Massachusetts

October 29, 2019

Early efforts to integrate financial capability strategies into youth employment programs have demonstrated some promising approaches for city leaders and practitioners to consider when designing or expanding programs. Learn how one of America's most historical cities has worked to promote racial equity and enhance outcomes for all of its residents.

City Profile on Racial Equity San Antonio, Texas

February 8, 2019

In 2017, San Antonio, Texas was ranked one of the most unequal cities in the country by the Economic Innovation Group. Recognizing the ranking and the history of segregationist policies that led to it, San Antonio's leaders are making an effort to reconcile their past with an equitable future for their residents through the San Antonio Office of Equity.

City Profile on Racial Equity New Orleans, Louisiana

February 8, 2019

When New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu set out to remove a series of confederate monuments lining the city spaces, it sparked national conversation–and action.But while the story captured the nation's attention, the Mayor and the city's efforts to address racial inequities and begin a process of racial reconciliation in New Orleans were both broader and more comprehensive than removing monuments celebrating the confederacy. 

City Profile on Racial Equity Takoma Park, Maryland

February 8, 2019

Takoma Park, Maryland, a Washington, DC suburb of 17,600 people, recognizes that racial inequities have become institutionalized in the policy and practices of many agencies. To ensure their city works for all its residents, Mayor Kate Stewart and the city council committed to address racial equity proactively and deliberately as part of its decision-making process. This city is working toward dismantling institutionalized racism to ensure a vibrant, inclusive, equitable and healthy community for all city residents. 

City Profile on Racial Equity Park Forest City

November 2, 2018

The Village of Park Forest was established in 1948 to house military veterans as the nation's first planned community after World War II. Park Forest was initially designed as one of the few communities without restrictive covenants by religion. Building on that ten-year tradition, Park Forest was racially desegregated in 1959 when the first African-American family was invited to live in the village through efforts by some members of the local Unitarian Church. Perhaps as a result of the planned integration of Park Forest, the town faced a smaller degree of white flight in the 1980s than did many other suburbs. Much like other cities, Park Forest faces a lack of diversity in the village's staff, which is currently predominantly white even though the current village population is approximately 65 percent black.