Not Out of the Woods: The Recession's Continuing Impact on Big City Taxes, Services and Pensions

Not Out of the Woods: The Recession's Continuing Impact on Big City Taxes, Services and Pensions

For residents of many major U.S. cities, the recession will mean higher local taxes and new fees in the year ahead, continuing a trend that began this past year. And for some local government workers who retain their jobs, it will mean fewer and costlier employee benefits. Those are some of the conclusions that emerge from our ongoing review of how 13 city governments, including Philadelphia's, have been coping with hard economic times.

Most of the cities have been dealing with another year of significant budget gaps, although their shortfalls, for the most part, were slightly smaller than a year ago. To offset drops in existing revenues, four of the cities are weighing or have approved higher local taxes or fees for fiscal 2011 that would impact a broad swath of residents or businesses. Six of them already had imposed increases for fiscal 2010. Among the 13 cities, as of late May, Philadelphia was the only one enacting a broad tax hike a second year in a row—a property-tax increase for fiscal 2011 after a sales-tax increase for fiscal 2010. But one way or another, all of the cities are looking for additional revenue streams from residents or businesses. Most cities are planning increases in smaller, targeted fees, fines or taxes—such as telecommunications fees, parking fines and an aviation fuel sales tax. Casino gambling that boosts local tax revenue has been proposed or recently approved for four of the cities.

Spotlight on Mental Health

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Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

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How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

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What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

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Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

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Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.