California Policy Center Study Ranks State's Most Financially Distressed Cities

California Policy Center Study Ranks State's Most Financially Distressed Cities


Sacramento, California, November 6, 2014

Contact:; principal author Marc Joffe, 415-578-0558

Study Ranks Atwater, Chico, Compton and Maywood Among Most Financially Distressed California Cities

The California Policy Center and Civic Partner have released a list of the most financially distressed California cities and counties. The new CPC report, “California’s Most Financially Stressed Cities and Counties,” describes conditions in the ten most fiscally challenged municipalities and provides credit scores for almost 500 California local governments.

The most financially distressed local governments (all of which were cities) in the CPC survey are as follows:

1.  Compton

2.  King City

3.  Sutter Creek

4.  Ione

5.  Maywood

6.  Atwater

7.  Huron

8.  Chico

9.  Calipatria

10.  Ridgecrest

11.  San Fernando

12.  Blythe

13.  Firebaugh

The list excludes Stockton and San Bernardino, both of which remain in bankruptcy. No California city has filed for bankruptcy since the summer of 2012.

The cities were ranked using a credit scoring method previously developed by Public Sector Credit Solutions in a project commissioned by the State Treasurer’s Office. The scoring algorithm considers general fund balance, general fund surplus or deficit, change in annual revenues, debt burden and pension obligations as reflected by the local government’s actuarially required contributions.

The data were gathered by Civic Partner, a web startup that collects and analyzes audited financial statements published by state, county and city governments. Data used to compile the ranking may be viewed next week on Civic Partner’s web site.

Marc Joffe, a consultant to Civic Partner who co-authored the CPC study said “Due to improving economic conditions, most local governments have very little risk of succumbing to bankruptcy over the next year. However, many cities and counties remain vulnerable to an economic downturn. Our study highlights those that are most at risk.”

Ed Ring, CPC’s Executive Director noted that “while cities may not be in near term jeopardy, they face longer term issues arising from pension and employee retirement expenses. Cities and counties need to aggressively manage their costs not only to avoid bankruptcy but to maintain appropriate service levels over the next 5-10 years.”

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The California Policy Center is a non-partisan public policy think tank that aspires to provide information that will elevate and enlighten the public dialogue on vital issues facing Californians, with the goal of helping to foster constructive progress towards more equitable and sustainable management of California’s public institutions. Learn more at

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