Nearly a third of the nation’s cities are laying off workers this year. More than half have canceled or delayed infrastructure projects. And two out of five have raised their fees.
The catalog of service cuts and fee increases comes as America’s cities are bracing for what they expect will be their fifth straight year of declining revenues, according to a survey of city finance officers to be released on Tuesday by the National League of Cities.
One of the main culprits is the property tax, which many cities and local governments rely on heavily. Property tax collections, which are usually quite resilient, are projected to fall by 3.7 percent this year ”” their second year in a row of declines ”” as tax assessments belatedly catch up with the lower property values left behind by the battered real estate market. Sales tax collections are projected to be slightly higher this year, but income tax collections are projected to be slightly lower, as unemployment and lower wages take their toll in many places.