The Complete Guide To Best & Worst-Run Cities In America 

Personal-finance website WalletHub analyzed the 150 most-populated U.S. cities to determine the best and worst-run municipalities. They assigned each metro area a “Quality of Services” score comprised of 38 metrics grouped into six service categories (including financial stability, education, health, safety, economy, infrastructure, and pollution) – which was compared against each’s per-capita budget.

The study, titled 2020’s Best- & Worst-Run Cities in America, determined the effectiveness of local leadership in crisis and non-crisis periods. 

City leaders have been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for months, and now many are tasked with keeping the peace while respecting people’s rights to demonstrate as protests against police brutality surge across the nation. People in local positions of power will undoubtedly feel extra pressure to please the public this year, as the November election will determine whether many of them keep their seats.

Even when the U.S. isn’t in a time of crisis, running a city is a tall order. The larger the city, the more complex it becomes to manage. In addition to representing the residents, local leaders must balance the public’s diverse interests with the city’s limited resources. That often means not everyone’s needs can or will be met. Leaders must carefully consider which services are most essential, which agencies’ budgets to cut or boost and whether and how much to raise taxes, among other decisions. -WalletHub

“How do we measure the effectiveness of local leadership?” WalletHub said. “One way is by determining a city’s operating efficiency. In other words, we can learn how well city officials manage and spend public funds by comparing the quality of services residents receive against the city’s total budget.”

The findings revealed Washington D.C. was the worst-run city, the second was San Francisco, and third Gulfport, Mississippi. 

Bottom 10 cities nationally:

  1. Washington, DC
  2. San Francisco, CA
  3. Gulfport, MS
  4. Chattanooga, TN
  5. New York, NY
  6. Hartford, CT
  7. Oakland, CA
  8. Detroit, MI
  9. Chicago, IL
  10. Flint, MI

The study determined the three best-run cities were in Idaho and Utah.

Top 10 cities nationally:

  1. Nampa, ID
  2. Boise, ID
  3. Provo, UT
  4. Las Cruces, NM
  5. Durham, NC
  6. Lexington-Fayette, KY
  7. Missoula, MT
  8. Fort Wayne, IN
  9. Virginia Beach, VA
  10. Nashua, NH

Notice some of the worst-run cities are concentrated on the coasts, or in Democratic states. 

Other metrics comparing the best and worst-run cities: 

A well-run city requires officials who can efficiently manage resources and make above-average good decisions for the long-term survivability of keeping their tax base in place. It’s a difficult juggling act when it comes to running a city in 2020 – many metro areas are fraught with socio-economic collapse, resulting in an exodus of the wealthy tax base.