We're all on the hook for death and taxes, according to the guy that graces the $100 bill. Cities are no different (with a twist): if they can't spend their tax money efficiently, their deaths (or, at least, their bankruptcies) are imminent. WalletHub.com has evaluated and ranked 78 American cities along three indicators of intelligent accounting: the returns on investment in education, law enforcement and parks and recreation. You can quibble with those indicators, but on par (and in aggregate), they point to a rather reasonable argument that cities are fiscally healthy when they apply dollars to an educated citizenry, a safe community and adequately maintained green space.
Where are transportation, infrastructure, and public health? Fair question -- and WalletHub admits that those figures are harder to come by than the ones they've used for education, law enforcement and parks. The three indicators you do see, however, constitute three complete sets of data. Notably, the Top 10 are all over the map, and though there are some places on the list that will raise an eyebrow, they represent only a few of the major regions of the U.S.
Does your city make the cut, or are your tax dollars being spent inefficiently? Read on to find out.
10. Phoenix, Arizona
Adjusted Education ROI Rank: 30
Adjusted Law Enforcement ROI Rank: 24
Parks and Recreation ROI Rank: 2
The sobriquet "Arizona's Urban Heart" is apt, but Phoenix is also a green heart - second only to Houston for the amount of city parkland divided by parks and recreation expenditures. That's about the only reason it squeaks into the Top 10, since it's 30th out of 78 for adjusted education ROI and 24th out of 78 for adjusted law enforcement ROI. But, when you consider that the U.S. Census counts 19,354 cities and towns in America, those numbers look quite respectable, indeed.