Author: Adam H. Langley
Publication Date: February 2016
This paper details the methodology used to create the fiscally standardized cities (FiSCs) database. The data are available for 150 U.S. cities for the 1977–2012 period on the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s website. FiSCs allow for comparisons of local government finances across the nation’s largest cities by accounting for differences in the structure of local government. The construction of FiSCs involves adding together revenues and expenditures for the city government plus an appropriate share from overlying counties, school districts, and special districts. The allocations are based on a city’s share of county population, the percentage of students in each school district that live in the central city, and the city’s share of the estimated population served by each special district. FiSCs provide a full picture of revenues raised from city residents and business and spending on their behalf, whether done by the city government or a separate overlying government.
Key words: Local government finances, Local government structure, City fiscal comparisons