In my previous blog entry I talked about the financial troubles of two rural, Douglas County towns, Bridgeport and Mansfield. But according to the AP’s David Ammons, prospects for the majority of Washington’s cities and towns are also bleak. [State’s cities awash in financial problems]
The news comes in the annual State of the Cities Report to the Legislature. The percentage of the population being served by cities is up, while per capita revenues are down across the board. And with health care costs for city employees rising 15 percent a year, more service cuts are inevitable.
The cities and towns aren’t keeping up with the population boom, particularly since state voters capped property-tax growth and abolished the car-tab tax, said Mary Place, Yakima councilwoman and president of the Association of Washington Cities.
“The fact is, most cities across Washington state have been caught in the perfect financial storm,” she said. “At the same time Washington’s population has been growing and moving to our cities, we were hit by a severe recession, skyrocketing costs, more unfunded mandates and tremendous cuts in state funding from initiatives.”
The survey said that cities face a $3.4 billion gap in meeting basic transportation needs over the next six years. Deferred maintenance has left streets and bridges in disrepair, and traffic is getting so bad it may choke off economic growth.
Welcome to libertarian utopia.