Irvine is the most fiscally-fit city in the U.S., again!
In ranking Irvine No. 1, the group commented that, “Unlike most cities, Irvine’s elected officials have only promised the amount of benefits they can afford to pay. Because of this, Irvine has enough money to pay all of its bills.”
The study notes that Irvine has $609.7 million in assets and $195.6 million worth of bills, resulting in a $414.2 million surplus. That surplus is available to pay future bills, including $111.2 million in unfunded pension benefits and $5.3 million in unfunded retiree healthcare benefits. Each city taxpayer’s share of the surplus is $5,200, according to the study.
“There are very few U.S. cities that are free of bonded debt, and Irvine is one of them,” the report notes.
The report concludes that 64 of the 75 most-populous U.S. cities do not have enough money available to pay all of their bills, adding up to $335.4 billion in unfunded municipal debt.
“Most of this debt comes from unfunded retiree benefit promises, such as pension and retiree healthcare debt,” according to the report. “This year, pension debt accounts for $210.7 billion, and other post-employment benefits—mainly retiree healthcare liabilities—totaled $119.5 billion.”
This isn’t the first time that Irvine has been given a top ranking in fiscal health and civic financial responsibility. Last year, The Fiscal Times gave Irvine a perfect score of 100 in ranking the fiscal strength of 116 U.S. cities with more than 200,000 in population. The city’s stellar score was based in large part on the $700 million of cash and investments on its balance sheet.
For a story on the ranking that ran last year, Irvine City News asked the report’s author Marc Joffe how economic growth, including new jobs, homes and office buildings, impacts fiscal health: “From a fiscal standpoint, growth is generally good,” Joffe responded. “New developments that generate revenue in excess of municipal service costs (which they generally do) should be welcomed.”
“A ranking like this reflects strong leadership and visionary planning,” Jim Doti told ICN. The renowned Chapman University economist, who holds the Donald Bren Distinguished Chair of Business and Economics at the university, said that, “For Irvine to attain a No. 1 raking in a national survey of the fiscal health of cities is a cause for celebration.”
With the new report confirming the outstanding fiscal health of the city, that celebration should continue, as should the growth-driven economic vitality of Irvine.