Benchmarking and Municipal Fiscal Health


  • The differences in local government fiscal arrangements across U.S. cities and how the FiSC database accounts for these differences
  • How to use the FiSC database
  • How the FiSC database can be used for fiscal benchmarking


Recent bankruptcies of several large cities highlight the importance of understanding the fiscal pressures cities face. However, fiscal comparisons across municipal governments alone can be highly misleading, because while some city governments provide a full array of public services for their residents and businesses, others share the responsibility with a variety of overlying independent governments.

The FiSC database allows for meaningful comparisons across the largest 150 cities by accounting for these differences. The database includes annual data from 1977 to the present for more than 120 categories of revenues, expenditures, debt, and assets. Gain a full picture of revenues raised from city residents and businesses and expenditures on their behalf, whether done by the city government or by a separate overlying government. See a demonstration and learn what research informed the data. This is an intermediate course for experienced planners.