(The Center Square) – It was a tale of three cities in Washington state, with Tacoma and Seattle ranked among the worst-run large cities in the U.S., and Spokane ranked among the best-run large cities in the country.
That’s according to the personal finance website WalletHub, which looked at 150 big cities, weighing their services against the total budget per capita spent on them. A city’s score was determined across 38 metrics grouped into six service categories: financial stability, education, health, safety, economy, and infrastructure and pollution.
“The past year has been a true test of the effectiveness of local leadership,” WalletHub noted in its report. “City leaders have had to facilitate the transition from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic back to a state much closer to normal, including loosening restrictions and distributing the vaccine.”
Coming in at No. 139, Tacoma got low marks for quality of services – No. 102 – with a comparatively high total budget per capita – No. 142.
Tacoma’s neighbor to the north, Seattle, ranked No. 118 on WalletHub’s list. The Emerald City got high marks for its services – No. 18 – but got low marks for its bloated spending, coming in at No. 140 in terms of total budget per capita.
WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez offered some insight into the poor showing by Tacoma and Seattle.
“Seattle and Tacoma rank in the second half,” she noted. “Seattle offers its residents high quality city services, but with a high budget, while Tacoma also has a high budget, but low quality city services. Both cities have a high level of outstanding long-term debt per capita, high crime rates and low percentages of sheltered homeless persons.”
Gonzalez went on to note, “Other areas where the cities are lacking include the growth in the number of businesses, building permit growth, quality of roads, commute times and water quality.”
It wasn’t all bad news, at least for one city in Eastern Washington.
Spokane ranked No. 56.
The city came in at No. 58 and No. 68, respectively, in terms of quality of services and total budget per capita.
“Spokane ranks among the top half best-run cities,” Gonzalez said. “This is because there is a balance between the quality of city services and the total budget per capita. Among the areas where the city ranks higher, we can mention a low infant mortality rate, the high quality of the public hospital system and the high annual job growth rate, which is over 7%.”
The 10 best-run big cities in America:
1. Nampa, Idaho
2. Boise, Idaho
3. Fort Wayne, Indiana
4. Nashua, New Hampshire
5. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky
6. Lincoln, Nebraska
7. Las Cruces, New Mexico
8. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
9. Missoula, Montana
10. Durham, North Carolina
The 10 worst-run cities in America:
150. Washington, D.C.
149. San Francisco, California
148. New York, New York
147. Chattanooga, Tennessee
146. Cleveland, Ohio
145. Detroit, Michigan
144. Flint, Michigan
143. Oakland, California
142. Hartford, Connecticut
141. Gulfport, Mississippi