A COMPARISON OF FINANCIAL INDICATORS BETWEEN TWO CASE STUDY COMMUNITIES LITTLETON AND AURORA, COLORADO -
SUGGESTIONS TO OPTIMIZE THE FUTURE SERVICE CAPABILITIES OF THE TWO MUNICIPALITIES
Elizabeth Downing Truby
A thesis presented
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Planning and Community Development
University of Colorado Denver, Colorado
August 15, 1985
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. BACKGROUND DISCUSSION AND DOCUMENTATION.................3
The Nature of Public Goods and Services..................3
Growth of Government.....................................7
The History of Intergovernmental Aid....................11
The increasing reliance of local governments
on intergovernmental aid..............................12
Factors Contributing to Service Provision Growth........14
Increased service demand...............................15
Inefficiencies in service provision....................17
An increased supply of services........................18
The Growth in Government and the Suburbs................19
The move to the suburbs................................19
The problems of suburban government....................21
Case Study Communities..................................25
Population growth.................................... 31
Commercial data...................................... 33
Demographics of the Case Study Communities.............33
Occupational and Industrial Categories.................35
Growth and Development of Aurora and Littleton.........36
II. FINANCIAL ANALYSIS......................................41
Determining the Potential for Excessive Municipal
The concept of fiscal strain...........................43
Financial Strain in the Case Study Communities..........44
Financial indicators #1 10 (Analysis).............53-89
Sunmary of Findings.....................................90
General Expenditure Reduction Strategies................92
Decreasing service provision costs.....................93
Reducing service quality and quantity..................94
Altering service delivery strategies...................95
Specific Expenditure Reduction Strategies..............101
Revenue Enhancement Strategies.........................110
Charges for Services...................................110
Central Business District Revitalization...............112
Cultural facilities as a means to revitalize
Statewide Sales Tax....................................119
APPENDIX A: BACKGROUND FIGURES
Table 1. GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES..............................9
Table 2. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES................................10
Table 3. AURORA'S HISTORICAL POPULATION GROWTH...............27
Table 4. LITTLETON'S HISTORICAL POPULATION GROWTH............31
Table 5. DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS.........................34
Table 6. INDUSTRY CLASSIFICATION BREAKDOWN...................35
Table 7. OCCUPATION..........................................36
Table 8. FINANCIAL INDICATORS SUMMARY........................52
Table Financial Indicator 1. REVENUES/POPULATION.............55
Table Financial Indicator 1A. REVENUES BY SOURCE AURORA....57
Table Financial Indicator IB. REVENUES BY SOURCE LITTLETON..58
Table Financial Indicator 2. INTERGOVERNMENTAL REVENUES......60
Table Financial Inaicator 3. ELASTIC TAX REVENUES............63
Table Financial Indicator 4. DEBT SERVICE....................66
Table Financial Indicator 5. PROPERTY TAX REVENUES...........69
Table Financial Indicator 6. EXPENDITURES/POPULATION.........72
Table Financial Indicator 6A. DISTRIBUTION OF MUNICIPAL
Table Financial Indicator 7. EMPLOYEES/POPULATION.............80
Table Financial Indicator 8. PROPERTY TAX AND MUNICIPAL
Table Financial Indicator 9. POPULATION GROWTH RATE..........85
Table Financial Indicator 10. PERSONAL INCOME................88
Table 9. PRODUCERS OF SERVICES TO MUNICIPALITIES
UNDER INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENTS..................97
Table 10. NUMBER OF CITIES USING PRIVATE FIRMS TO SUPPLY
MUNICIPAL SERVICES UNDER CONTRACT...............99-100
Table 11. RECREATION COSTS PAID BY USER FEES.................106
Graph 1. REVENUES/POPULATION.................................56
Graph 2. INTERGOVERNMENTAL REVENUES..........................61
Graph 3. ELASTIC TAX REVENUES................................64
Graph 4. DEBT SERVICE........................................67
Graph 5. PROPERTY TAX REVENUES...............................70
Graph 6. EXPENDITURES/POPULATION.............................73
Graph 6A1. DISTRIBUTION OF EXPENDITURES AURORA...............77
Graph 6A2. DISTRIBUTION OF EXPENDITURES LITTLETON............78
Graph 7. EMPLOYEES/POPULATION................................81
Graph 9. POPULATION GROWTH RATE..............................86
Graph 10. PERSONAL INCOME.....................................89
Figure 1. CITY OF AURORA......................................26
Figure 2. CITY OF LITTLETON AND SURROUNDINGS..................30
Introduction Municipalities frequently face severe budgetary
problems. More and more service delivery demands are placed on local governments at the same time federal government assistance is decreasing. Citizens want their taxes to remain low, yet demand more and better services. Local government officials face difficult decisions in trying to deliver adequate services to existing and new residents. Alternative methods of providing services must be explored by those responsible for providing them.
People living in a community atmosphere have recognized the need for and have demanded more goods and services than the private sector can or will provide. However, once a community begins providing public goods and services, people develop expectations about what government should provide for them. More and more goods and services may be demanded to be added to the list of what is a public good. Uncontrolled community growth may cause more service demands to be placed on a local government than were originally anticipated. Inefficiencies may result from long-term service provision, overtaxing the community's ability to pay. Revenues may not keep pace with expenditures. The growth of government, the increasing demands placed upon municipalities for service provision and the growing tendency for imbalance between a municipality's revenues and expenditures all emphasize the need for an exploration of alternative means to maximize municipalities' service delivery abilities. The need to better
warn decision makers of a growing imbalance and impending financial burden or stress is also clear. Then, sound fiscal alternatives to adjust revenues and expenditures can be determined through more efficient service delivery, reduction of expenditures or increases in revenue generating capacity.
This paper will first explore the nature of public goods and services, the growth of government and preliminary information on two case study communities as background for the analysis and recommendations sections. Next, in the heart of the paper, two case study communities, Aurora and Littleton, will be analyzed through the use of financial indicators to determine where fiscal stress exists in terms of municipal expenditures, revenues and community resources (e.g., level of personal income). Finally, recommendations will be made concerning where service expenditures can be trimmed or revenues increased to enable the municipalities to continue adequate service provision to the community. Therefore, the paper will be divided into three sections: 1) background data on the nature of public goods and services and documentation on the growth of government; 2) analysis of financial indicators used to pinpoint fiscal strain in the case study communities; and 3) recommendations on optimizing the future service capabilities of the two case study communities, Aurora and
I. BACKGROUND DISCUSSION AND DOCUMENTATION
This section will cover a background discussion on the nature of services, governmental growth, the move to the suburbs, and preliminary information on the two case study communities, Aurora and Littleton.
The Nature of Public Goods and Services
In a world with relatively scarce and limited resources, goods and services must be allocated. Not every consumer can have every possible good or service he or she may want. There would not be enough resources, time or ability to supply everyone with everything. As a result, goods are allocated in the marketplace. In the United States' capitalist society, workers sell their goods (labor) to the highest bidder (the employer) in order to earn money. With these resources (wages) the worker allocates what goods and services he will buy. In most cases he will not be able to buy everything he wants so he will pick between the various choices available to him in the marketplace, based on their price and a personal choice of what goods and services are necessary or desirable. With many buyers and sellers, the marketplace remains competitive.
The goods and services a consumer buys in the marketplace have an important quality, the property of exclusion. Goods are available in a store to anyone who is willing to pay the price for them. The supplier will not give them to you until you pay for them, and
once that is done, no one else can use those same goods without your permission (unless they steal them, of course). This discussion implies another important characteristic of consumer goods and services, individual consumption. Food can only be eaten once and then it is gone, no one else can consume it.
However, people living in a community atmosphere, as we do in the U.S., recognize the need for, and demand more goods and services than can be individually supplied. Also, for smoother community functioning, goods and services are demanded that are deemed necessary and that cost money, but that people cannot be forced to pay for even though they may benefit. National defense is a good example of a non-exclusive, joint consumption good. The United States, as a community, has deemed national defense a necessary good. This service must be paid for out of collective taxes because it is infeasible for nonpayers to be excluded from the service. National defense protects a community, not individual houses. Also, if an individual had to provide their own defense it would be prohibitively expensive; the service can only be feasibly provided on a joint consumption basis. National defense, as a good/service can be consumed by many simultaneously, without diminishing the quality or quantity available to other users.
As E.S. Savas discusses in Privatizing the Public Sector, (1) four extremes exist when classifying the nature of goods and services:
o pure individually consumed goods for which exclusion is
completely feasible (private goods), this category includes free market goods such as televisions, furniture, etc.; o pure jointly consumed goods for which exclusion is
completely feasible (toll goods), examples here include utilities, turnpikes and education; o pure individually consumed goods for which exclusion is completely infeasible (common-pool goods), these goods include fish in the ocean, available to be taken, or air; o pure jointly consumed goods for which exclusion is
completely infeasible (collective goods), such as air and water pollution control or national defense.
In the first case (pure individually consumed goods for which exclusion is completely feasible), the private sector will supply these goods, if someone is willing to pay the cost of production. There is a direct link between consumption and payment. The public sector will probably not supply such goods. (An exception might be health care for the indigent, a service that may be deemed necessary by society but is prohibitively expensive for the receiver.) These private goods are consumed individually and are secured through transactions between buyers and sellers.
While private goods are most often supplied by the marketplace, toll goods, common-pool goods and collective goods must frequently be provided by the public sector if a community is to have them at all. Frequently, these public goods cannot be provided through the marketplace because there is no way of excluding nonpaying customers. If a toll, common-pool or collective good can be provided in such a way that nonpaying customers can be excluded,
it may still be provided by the private sector, for example, cable television. However, those toll, common-pool and collective goods that consumers cannot be excluded from for nonpayment and that are deemed necessary by society must be provided by the public sector, such as streets. Included on the list of public goods would be those that consumers can be excluded from for nonpayment but society has decided to provide them regardless, such as an education through high school.
Public goods, such as national defense, the judicial system, air and water pollution control and police protection cannot feasibly be supplied by the private sector. Individual citizens could not easily or reasonably be excluded from such services. The good or service is consumed jointly and if made available to one person must be made available to all. If consumers cannot be excluded, they will tend not to pay their fair share. Your actions as an individual consumer will not affect whether that service is provided or not, so there is an incentive for you not to pay. These goods must be public goods, provided by the public sector and paid for out of public sector revenues, if a community deems them necessary goods/services. Problems may arise, however, when the list of publicly provided goods and services demanded expands to a degree greater than a municipality's ability to pay.
Growth of Government
The increasing urbanization and suburbanization that has been taking place in the United States in the past one hundred years has been well-documented. A multiplication in the number of local governmental entities began in the late nineteenth century and continued through the next century. The "...division and subdivision of the metropolis was made possible through a legal structure, developed in the nineteenth century, that maximized the opportunity for local self-rule. Local self-determination was the rallying cry of Americans, and this meant that each fragment of the metropolis would enjoy the right to govern itself and to decide its destiny." (2) With the increase in immigration during this same period and the rise of manufacturing and industrialization, middle class residents wanted to escape unwanted metropolitan traits. Many elements clamored for their own rule because of the diversity of society and the desire for different governmental policies by different segments. New outlying fringe residents and industries wanted to escape what they felt were excessive tax burdens, unwanted governmental regulation or to create their own set of laws and rules. "Both the legal means and the social and economic motives for (government) fragmentation existed, and outlying residents thus initiated an often chaotic dissection of the metropolis. Throughout the nation, particularistic communities vied for resources, wealth, and advantage as state legislatures abdicated supervision over the creation of cities and villages." (3)
Once the plethora of fledgling governmental entities was established, demand grew for the same range of municipal services that had been provided by the central city. In fact, "(t)hroughout the country outlying municipalities were developing increasingly sophisticated public services. In 1890 only 29 percent of the outlying municipalities in Cook County, Illinois, enjoyed a piped supply of water, whereas by 1915 45 percent of the suburban cities and villages could claim this advantage." (4)
This increasing urbanization and suburbanization has fueled the growth of local governments, municipalities as well as special districts, and has continued throughout this century. Table 1 illustrates the dramatic growth in government expenditures that has occurred from 1930 to 1980. During this period, federal, state and local expenditures grew from 11.1 billion dollars in 1930 to 869 billion dollars in 1980.
As Table 1 shows, total government expenditures (in 1972 constant dollars) increased 746% over the fifty year period. Fer capita expenditures grew 358% over the same period, or 7% per year. Total government expenditures have grown from an eighth to a third of Gross National Product.(5) The number of government employees has exhibited the same high growth rates. Table 2 shows that there have been large increases in the number of government employees from 1929 through 1979. (6)
Table 1. GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES
(Federal, State and Local)
Total As % of
In Constant 1972 Dollars (billions)
As Per Capita Expenditures In Constant 1972 Dollars
1930 $11.1 12.2% $45.1 $367
1940 18.4 18.4 75.5 572
1950 61.0 21.3 105.1 691
1960 136.4 27.0 146.7 810
1970 313.4 31.6 256.7 1,252
1980 $869.0 33.1% $381.8 $1,681
E.S. Savas, Privatizing the Public Sector, 1982
Table 2. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
(Federal, State and Local)
Number in Year Millions
As Percent of Population
As Percent of All Employees
1929 2.92 2.4 8.2
1949 5.59 3.8 12.2
1970 11.35 5.5 16.6
1979 13.96 6.2 14.9
The number of government employees has increased from less than 10 percent of all employees to almost 15 percent in 1979. A good portion of the dramatic increases in government expenditures and number of employees is due to increases in the federal branch, however, local governments have also been part of this trend. Tables 1 and 2 illustrated the dramatic growth that has occurred in government spending and staffing in the past 50 years. Once the number of governments expands, the services demanded by the population tends to increase also. The governmental service categories of "income security, welfare, health, housing and education have been the principle loci of large and rapid government growth". (7)
The History of Intergovernmental Aid
In the past 10 years, the relationship between the federal, state and local governments has been changing drastically. At first, urban areas received large amounts of aid, such as revenue sharing and other programs. Now these same entities must deal with the drastic cutbacks that have been the norm in federal aid since the election of President Reagan in 1981. In the 1960's, federal money was distributed on a smaller scale to states, cities and counties, in the 1970's funds were dispensed on a much larger scale. "In fiscal year 1978 federal aid to states and localities exceeded $80 billion, a tenfold increase from the $8.5 billion in 1963. Federal aid to states and localities represented 7.6 percent of the federal budget in 1960; in fiscal year 1977 it topped 17 percent. (In 1979), federal aid amounted to more than 25 percent of the total state and local expenditures." (8) There
is also a more direct federal-local aid relationship than has been evident in the past. For example, "federal aid 'passed through' the states to localities increased 73 percent between 1972 and 1977 but direct aid to local governments increased 264 percent." (9)
The increasing reliance of local governments on federal aid The past twenty to thirty years has seen an increasing reliance of state and local governments on federal aid. Federal assistance to state and local governments combined averaged an increase of 15 percent per year between 1958 to 1978. (10) The municipalities have received a good portion of this increased largesse while the states have been bypassed in the distribution process. Between 1969 and 1979, federal aid directly given to city governments increased from 5 percent to 15.4 percent of overall city general revenues. Though municipalities can hardly be expected to turn down money available to them, if and when federal money is reduced, severe fiscal stress may result when expected revenues are not forthcoming. This kind of problem has faced many municipalities in the recent past.
The increase in municipalities' intergovernmental aid has been at the expense of the states. In 1971-72, states received 85.4 percent of all federal aid and retained 62 percent for their own use. By 1976-77, they received a smaller 73.4 percent of all federal aid but passed through so much to local governments they kept only 54 percent. (11) This type of shift represents a significant change in the structure of aid to states and
localities that affects the type and amount of services each type of entity is able to provide. Local governments have increased their share of federal money received from 38 percent in 1971-72 to 46 percent in 1976-77. (12)
States also contribute heavily to their municipalities, distributing more in dollars than the federal government does although their share has declined. In 1971-72, 70 percent of cities' intergovernmental aid was given by the states and 30 percent by the federal government. By 1976-77, the states provided 62.5 percent while the federal governments share increased to 37.5 percent. (13) Between 1970 and 1978, municipal governments became much more dependent on intergovernmental aid. While 30% of cities' general revenues came from intergovernmental aid in 1968-69, that figure had increased to 39 percent ten years later. (14)
The relative abundance of money available to local governments began to dry up after 1978 however. That year marked a turning point for local finance when federal aid began to slow down and taxpayers began balking at their high taxes (for example, the infamous Proposition 13 ballot issue in California). Two extensive federal programs that had augmented municipal budgets expired in 1978 the Local Public Works Program ($6 billion) and the Anti-Recession Fiscal Assistance Program ($3.5 billion). This latter program was passed during the 1975 recession to stimulate local economies and provide "countercyclical" revenues. (15) The federal branch is further paring funds formerly provided
municipalities. "The federal government is almost certain to cut off revenue-sharing funds at the end of its current fiscal year, October 1 (1985, and)... there will be other reductions in federal funds." (16) Faced with increasing losses of state and federal aid that will probably continue to decline in the future, municipalities must expand their own self-raised revenues or explore ways to decrease their expenditures.
Conclusion In the 1980's, increasing intergovernmental aid is no longer a viable option to fund services. Federal funds are spread very thin amongst the clamoring entities. State governments have their own budgets to balance and usually cannot afford to take on more fiscal responsibility in the form of aid to municipalities or counties. Local governments have their own lobbyists now in order to compete for what limited funds are available. Municipalities must be prepared for further cuts in intergovernmental aid. Citizens are reluctant to pay higher taxes. The costs of providing services is increasing. Populations grow and demand more services. To remain viable through the 1990's, municipalities must be able to pinpoint potential areas of fiscal stress in their budgets and to explore and utilize alternative revenue producing and expenditure reducing avenues.
Factors Contributing to Service Provision Growth
Many factors have contributed to the growth in government and the services provided by government. As E.S. Savas discusses in Privatizing the Public Sector, the main reasons are an
increase in tie demand for services by recipients, greater
inefficiencies in service provision/delivery and a desire to supply more government services by producers of the services, i.e. the bureaucracy. These forces have been working in the more mature, established suburbs for a longer period of time and are more entrenched than in a newer, growing suburb. This may make it harder for a mature suburb to compete as effectively with a growing suburb.
Increased service demand by many sectors of society has placed added burdens on municipalities struggling to supply the community with services. The baby boom generation has become affluent and tends to demand more in the way of services. Some factors contributing to the increased demand for services are:
o Demographic changes The character of the U.S. population is constantly changing, and each interest group demands services for their needs. The elderly require different services than children. Poor people demand more attention than middle income people. A growing elderly population may need more health care services. The welfare "safety net" concept is now well-established in our society and various forms of aid have come to be considered a right to which people feel they are entitled. Entitlements have become a substantial portion of governmental expenditures.
Sometimes a higher level of government may require local governmental entities to provide certain programs, such as welfare, to citizens without appropriating funds.
o Increasing urbanization has also fueled service demand. A more urban population tends to expect more services to be provided. For example, a large city would probable have a symphony, whereas the same population in several smaller cities that are more dispersed would probably not support such cultural institutions. Also, when people live in a more urban environment, the local government must provide services that, in a smaller, more personal community setting, would be provided by neighbors, such as elderly care or indigent aid.
o Income growth also encourages citizens to demand more service provision. People tend to expect more cultural institutions, more frequent service provision and additional services such as greater environmental protection when their incomes rise. They should be prepared to pay for these expanded services, but they may not realize the true costs. Also, not everyone in a community is able to pay for the level of services that the average citizen is.
o The fact that some sectors of society advocate
redistribution of wealth has also increased the cost of delivering services. As mentioned above, the "safety net" concept is entrenched in society. In addition, politicians attract votes by promising such benefits, contributing to the upward spiral in the amount of services government provides. Government is called upon to rectify societal ills and inequities, a noble undertaking which nonetheless
costs scarce dollars.
Contributing to the above causes of service demand increase is the population's perception of service provision. Often, people have no idea of what is entailed for a municipality to supply a service. They are unaware of what the actual costs are involved in providing the expanded range of services that are demanded. People will naturally expect more services if they do not fully realize the actual costs they are paying for that service in the form of taxes.
Inefficiencies in service provision also contribute to the increase in the cost of government:
o Frequently, it costs more or takes more employees to accomplish the same job than it did in the past. A striking example is evident in New York City where "over a 25 year period the number of police officers rose from 16,000 to 24,000, but the total annual hours worked by the force actually declined slightly". (17)
o In older communities, the infrastructure may be aging and not capable of delivering services as efficiently as possible. For example, a water system installed fifty years ago may not be able to handle the capacity necessary to serve the present population or excessive leakage may have impaired the pipeline capacity.
o The growth of suburbs and urban sprawl has increased the cost of providing services. The large-lot suburban development that is prevalent costs more to provide
services to per person than more dense types of development such as apartments. This problem affects roads, water and sewer, police and other distance-dependent services.
o Often, as discussed earlier, the nature of government is to provide those services that the private sector will not; therefore many government services are close to monopolies. With a monopoly there are less incentives to keep costs down and efficiency high. The services provided become inflated in terms of the perceived need for those services.
An increased supply of services by producers has also contributed to the increased scope of costs of government. This type of pressure on government can arise due to politicians and bureaucrats trying to protect their jobs or enhance their power. Some aspects of this phenomenon are:
o Our political process encourages campaign promises and special interests to proliferate; politicians will promise more benefits to the electorate or to interest groups to help ensure their election. In addition, government employees will tend to vote for the candidate promising more governmental services and thus ensuring them of job security.
o Once a governmental agency is established, the bureaucrats running it will naturally try to increase their budget allotment each year, claiming greater need and the necessity for more service provision.
The Growth of Government and the Suburbs
Mature and growing suburbs have been subject to all the forces associated with the growth of government and the problems related to trying to supply a community with those goods and services considered to be public goods. While the suburbs must deal with the same realities and problems inherent in attempting to provide services that were discussed in previous sections, they are often overlooked when it comes to receiving assistance from state and federal agencies. Frequently, suburbs do not have the severe fiscal shortages that central cities or small communities with a low tax base suffer from. These cities are more fiscally distressed, and naturally receive more aid than a suburb which might be relatively more affluent but still faces the problem of managing governmental growth, possible fiscal distress and the demands of servicing its population.
The move to the suburbs The suburban lifestyle .can be very attractive to central city residents. A more country setting, within commuting distance of employment, appeals to many people. With increasing affluence, people in the past in the United States have tended to move to the suburbs. The relative ease of transportation we enjoy in this country has enabled millions of acres of land available outside of cities to be accessible for residential development for people who work inside the cities. After World War II, the availability of "accessible and affordable cars, (the) buildup of interstate highways and pent-up housing demand fueled a suburban explosion." (18)
The demand for housing after World War II was considerable, since housing supply was not appreciably added to during the war. In 1946, it was estimated by the government that 3.5 million families would be looking for homes in 1946, but that only 945,000 vacant units would be available. (19) This shortage situation soon changed, however, when "After the removal of wartime restrictions on residential construction in late 1945, and emergency measures to stimulate production of building materials and equipment, the
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home-building^ moved quickly to respond. The number of new permanent dwellings during the first six months of 1946 increased more rapidly than ever. Housing starts for this period were greater than for all of 1945. Private housing construction was on its way back and to record levels, surpassing in 1946 the previous high year of 1925 and reaching almost 1.5 million units annually by the end of the decade." (20) The institution of the Federal Housing Administration's insured mortgage program and the Veterans Administration's guaranteed mortgage programs spurred the accelerated growth in housing and the move to the suburbs.
The term "suburban explosion" is no exaggeration. By 1930, almost one-third of metropolitan residents lived outside central cities, by 1960 metropolitan population was split between central and outside central city residents. By 1970, suburbanites were in the majority and by 1980, 60 percent of metropolitan residents were suburbanites. (21) Although there has been discussion recently about the fact that some people are moving back to the central cities or are moving to more rural environments, the majority of the population still resides in the suburbs.
The problems of suburban government As suburbs grow and mature, they become increasingly urban in terms of their economy, the social structure, fiscal problems and lifestyle. Growth is frequently haphazard. Infrastructure improvements need to be well-planned to help guide new growth since they are "...strong determinants of growth within a region." (22) Haphazard growth may be more inefficient and cost more than well-planned growth. Unfortunately, "(m)ost communities today do not have a system for equitably and rationally allocating the right to develop land in the future..." (23) A suburb may frequently suffer from a myriad of other problems as well. Urbanized or mature suburbs are experiencing such financial hardship symptoms as "rising per capita expenditures, rising tax rates, shortfalls in collecting taxes, growing debt, and so on." (24)
The slowly-growing mature suburb has the same increasing demands placed on its service delivery capacity that were discussed above. Also, mature or older suburbs frequently have served as central activity nodes for such important sectors of the local economy as transportation, retail and entertainment, increasing their expenditure burden. Frequently, the mature suburb had to provide increasing amounts of services, while business sector vitality and its resulting tax base declined. In the recent past, the mature suburbs have often lost out on new retail growth to growing suburban entities or even to outlying unincorporated areas. The mature suburbs' retail establishments may be older and less attractive to consumers than the newer establishments in a growing suburb and therefore frequented less often by the buying public, thereby accelerating the tax base decline.
Further compounding the problems of mature suburbs is the fact that many are hemmed in with little growth potential and no opportunity to annex commercial growth on the outskirts to increase the tax base. Both residential and commercial growth may be relatively stagnant.
The mature suburb often does not receive the large transfer payments that the central cities do. Their revenues are largely self-raised, and maximizing municipal services in a climate of budget restraint is difficult. The service delivery systems of the mature suburb may be aged, at capacity or outdated, thereby reducing efficiency and probably increasing costs. In comparison to growing suburbs, mature suburbs tend to have higher municipal outlays and impose higher taxes. For example, "(h)eightened spending for public safety, statutory and debt is a manifestation of community aging, social change, growing public service overhead and other danger signals." (25) In a study of New Jersey communities, it was found that mature suburbs spent a third more for total municipal operating expenses than the nearby growing suburbs. This phenomenon was especially pronounced in such functions as health and welfare. (26)
When a suburban government has been in existence for longer periods of time, they will be likely to have higher employee costs due to the greater numbers of more senior employees. In addition, there will probably be a greater number of personnel per capita as well as the tendency for proliferation of staff at senior salary levels. (27) Higher per capita costs result due to higher fixed and variable costs such as these. Despite some of
these problems associated with mature suburbs, they remain important as well as viable with their established infrastructure, moderately priced housing, activity centers and service delivery capabilities.
Growing suburbs The growing suburbs are often better off financially than the mature suburbs but still suffer from their own problems. These suburbs are often growing rapidly. With their later start in developing the bulk of their development, the growing suburb is more adept at "making development pay its own way." In addition, a growing suburb is often not as saddled with the high personnel costs that a mature suburb is. The growing suburb may have captured more of the new retail development in the area and may have well-patronized, gleaming suburban malls. The growing suburbs have often been more aware that they cannot only be bedroom communities if they want to be fiscally sound, and have been more aggressive in attracting businesses that will provide employment. For example, in the New Jersey study, in the 1970's the "newer suburbs increased their industrial job base by over 40 percent compared to a 20 percent loss in ... the older suburbs. Newer suburbs almost doubled their commercial employment in the 1970's while ...the mature suburbs barely held their own."(28) Despite the relatively rosy picture of the growing suburb, they are subject to the same increased service demand costs and government growth forces that have put a financial strain on their mature suburban counterparts. Indeed, they may suffer severe fiscal problems in trying to service their increasing population.
Excessive residential growth may strain service delivery capacity. Water or sewer lines may have to be extended before economies of scale allow for maximum service deliver efficiency. Commercial growth should be encouraged. They must be sure to follow sound fiscal practices now, before they become fiscally burdened. The growing suburban government must monitor revenue and expenditure patterns in anticipation of potential fiscal stress problems.
Beginning in Section II, two Denver metropolitan area suburban communities will be analyzed to try to pinpoint where expenditures are too high or where the revenue generating capacity of the municipalities can be expanded.
Case Study Communities
Aurora and Littleton, Colorado will be used as case study communities in the attempt to identify and analyze fiscal stress in municipalities through the use of financial indicators. Aurora was chosen as an example of a growing suburb while Littleton was picked as an example of a mature suburb, although neither can be so neatly classified. We would hypothesize that the more mature, slow-growth suburb, Littleton, would be more prone to suffer from financial burden than the growing suburb, Aurora. On the other hand, Aurora has shown they want to take a competitive growth stance in relation to the established central city, Denver. This may cause Aurora to experience unexpected financial stress given this pro-growth attitude. Growth costs money, in terms of infrastructure outlays such as water and sewer lines and service outlays such as police and fire. Both communities need to undergo a financial indicator analysis to determine strengths and weaknesses. A discussion on the characteristics and background of the two communities is below, followed by the Financial Analysis section.
Aurora is a fast-growing community of approximately 200,000 people located on the eastern edge of the Denver metropolitan area and is shown in Figure 1. Aurora began in April of 1891 when it was incorporated as the town of Fletcher. The name was changed to Aurora in 1907. (46) It has been a home-rule city since 1961 and has an 8 member council (plus mayor) as well as an appointed city manager.
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Developed land According to Aurora's January 1984 "Land Use Survey
Report", there were 39,056 acres of land within the city limits. The survey also indicated that 54 percent of this land was developed. Out of all the developed land in the city, the majority, 69 percent, was residential and 12 percent commercial, (pi.)
Population growth Although Aurora is not experiencing as rapid a population growth as it did in the 1950 to 1960 period or the 1970 to 1980 period, annual population growth was still a substantial 7.1 percent from 1980 to 1984. Table 3 details Aurora's historical population growth since 1950 and the annual increases.
Table 3. AURORA'S HISTORICAL POPULATION GROWTH
Year Number Annual Percent Increase
SOURCE: 1984 figures from Aurora Planning Department, all others frcxn U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.
The average annual growth rate for the 1950-1984 period was 14.5 percent, indicating substantial growth has been occurring in the city. From 1970 to 1980, Aurora grew by 79,138 people making it the top-ranked city in the state for absolute population change during that time period. (47) Although the city is in two counties, Adams and Arapahoe, over 60 percent of the population is contained in Arapahoe County (48)
Major employers Aurora has a substantial employment base in the city, the following are Aurora's major employers that have over 500 employees:
Fitzsimmons Army Hospital Aurora School District City of Aurora Buckley Air National Guard AT&T Network Systems Mountain Bell Yellow Pages Associated Grocers AT&T Information Systems Aurora Presbyterian Hospital Humana Aurora Hospital
Type of Facility U.S. General Hospital Schools
Municipal Government Military Base Administration/Research Advertising Service Warehouse/Distribution Corporate Center Hospital Hospital
Number of Employees
SOURCE: "Community Profile 1985", City of Aurora.
This list represents a wide variety of industries and a diversified economic base. Almost one-half of the list is government related, attesting to the growth in government discussed earlier. Fitzsimmons and Buckley employ large numbers yet few employees are from the local population, due to the facilities' nature. However, both would still inject dollars into the local economy through employees spending their wages.
Commercial data Aurora's sales tax is 7.6 percent in the Adams County portion and 6.6 percent in Arapahoe County (Adams County adds an extra 1 percent). Aurora contains two regional shopping centers: Buckingham Square at Havana Street and Mississippi Avenue and the extensive Aurora Mall at East Alameda Avenue and Interstate 225. These centers attract a great deal of retail spending and generate valuable sales tax dollars for the city.
The city of Littleton is located in the southern portion of the Denver metropolitan area and is shown by Figure 2. The foundation for the town was formed in 1872 when "...Richard S. Little laid out part of his land in building lots for employees of (his) Rough and Ready Mill..." (49) Littleton was incorporated in 1890 and has been the county seat of Arapahoe County since 1902. It is a home-rule city (since 1959) and utilizes a 7 member council-manager form of government. The city is 11.76 square miles in size. (50)
FIGURE 2. The City of Littleton and Surroundings
TI FTOH and DtmtH MtTKO ARIA
City of Littleton, "Profile
Population growth In terms of population growth, Littleton is a
relatively stable, mature suburb, especially in comparison to Aurora. Table 4 shows historical population growth for the city.
Table 4. LITTLETON'S HISTORICAL POPULATION GROWTH
Annual Percent Increase
SOURCE: 1984 figures from Littleton Planning Department, all others from U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.
Although Littleton experienced rapid population growth from 1950 to 1970, annual growth since then has been negligible. Average growth from 1950 to 1984 has been 10 percent annually, almost a third slower than Aurora.
Major employers Being a much smaller community, Littleton naturally has fewer businesses or government agencies employing over 500 people. Littleton also has several establishments that are not in city limits but are close to the city that employ large numbers of Littletonites, e.g. the Manville Corporation (1,300 employees). Martin Marietta has a large facility (approximately 7,000 employees) outside of Littleton but seme divisions are located in Littleton and are included in the list of Littleton's major employers (over 500 employed):
Employer Type of Facility of Employees
Littleton School District Schools 1,700 Martin Marietta Aerospace 1,000 Honeywell Test Instruments Electronic Components Mnfg. 900 C.A. Norgren Pneumatic Valve Hdqtrs/Mnfg. 650
SOURCE: "Profile", City of Littleton, undated.
As this list demonstrates, Littleton can also boast a variety of industrial types and employment opportunities. However, Littleton does not enjoy the luxury of large federal facilities adding spendable wages to the local economy, as Aurora now benefits from.
Commercial data Littleton's sales tax is presently 6.6 percent.
Littleton contains no regional shopping centers. The Southwest Plaza and Southglenn Mall are located relatively close to the city, draining potential retail sales tax dollars from city residents. As the Financial Analysis section will demonstrate, Littleton's sales tax collections have been stagnant since 1980, due in part to the lack of any substantial or cohesive retail shopping areas within the city limits. However, Littleton has taken a much more aggressive stance recently to try to reverse this trend and several new retail complexes are on the verge of opening. Some are convenience shopping centers but one, the Riverfront Festival Center by the Writer Corporation, should benefit the city by creating a quality, "up-scale" retail facility and providing needed sales tax dollars. The city has estimated that this facility will generate between $300,000 and $500,000 in sales tax annually, almost doubling the present sales tax collected.
Demographics of the Case Study Communities
Table 5 details the demographic characteristics of the case study communities in comparison to each other and the Denver metropolitan area. The figures are taken from 1980 Bureau of the Census data as published in Denver Regional Council of Governments' June 1983 report, "Changes in Local Demographics,1970-1980".
Table 5. DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS
Aurora, Littleton and the Denver Metropolitan Area
Characteristic Aurora Littleton Metro
Median Age 28.0 31.0 28.9
Average Household Size 2.7 2.7 2.6
Percent Nonwhite 12% 3% 12%
Median Rent $256 $234 $241
Labor Force Participation 76.7% 69.8% 70.3%
Median Education 13.1 13.2 12.9
% Cwner Occupied out of Total Occupied Dwelling Units 68% 63% 63%
It is interesting to note where each community differs from the metropolitan wide norm. Aurora has a younger population than average, Littleton older. Both Aurora and Littleton have larger household sizes than the Denver area as a whole. Littleton has a very small percent of minorities, only 3 percent. This may reflect their more mature nature. Surprisingly, Littleton has the lowest median rent of the three and Aurora the highest. Aurora also has a much higher labor force participation rate than the other two as well as the highest percentage of owner occupied housing units.
Occupational and Industrial Categories
Aurora, Littleton and the Denver metropolitan area show similar breakdowns in industry and occupational categories. Table 6 shows the industry categories for the three:
Table 6. INDUSTRY CLASSIFICATION BREAKDOWN Aurora, Littleton and the Denver Metropolitan Area
Industry Category Aurora Littleton Metro
Agriculture & Mining 2.8% 3.9% 3.5%
Construction 1.7 7.6 7.2
Manufacturing 11.7 17.1 15.5
Transportation/Communication 11.5 5.8 8.7
Wholesale Trade 5.5 5.2 5.4
Retail Trade 18.1 18.5 16.7
Finance, Insurance and Real 9.8 8.9 7.8
Services 27.3 28.9 29.4
Public Adninistration 6.8% 4.2% 6.0%
SOURCE: "Changes in Local Demographics,1970-1980", Denver Regional Council of Governments, June 1983, selected pages.
By far the largest industry category for each of the three areas is
services. Retail trade accounts for the second largest category for
each also. Littleton has a higher manufacturing share than the other
two areas, while Aurora excels in the Transportation and Communication
category. Aurora also shows a higher public administration share than
the other two, much higher than Littleton's as we would expect.
All of the three areas employ most of their workers in the managerial, professional, technical and sales and administration occupational category. Table 7 details this breakdown:
Table 7. OCCUPATION
Aurora, Littleton and the Denver Metropolitan Area
Occupation Aurora Littleton Metro
Managerial, Professional, 65.4% 64.3% 62.1%
Technical, Sales & Admin.
Service Occupations 12.6 12.4 12.1
Farming, Forestry, Fishing 0.6 0.8 1.0
Precision Production, Craft, Repair, Operators, Laborors Fabricators 24.8% 22.4% 24.8%
SOURCE: "Changes in Local Demographics,1970-1980"
Aurora shows the highest percent of managerial and professional workers when compared to Littleton and the Metro area. The precision production category is the second largest for each of the three, followed by service occupations.
Growth and Development of Aurora and Littleton
Each community has developed differently in the past, thus determining their differences in the present and future. In past Comprehensive Plans adopted as late as 1983 by the City of Aurora, growth was to be contained within the city's "Blue Line", a policy that has now been rejected. Littleton, which in the past seemed to be content to be a
relatively sleepy community, now sports a successful economic development program that has attracted new commercial development to the city.
At the rate Aurora is growing, it will overtake Denver in population early in the 21st century. This rapid growth, in the form of sales tax, commercial, and government revenues, paid for infrastructure development and service outlays. Aurora wants to continue growing, and recently "...abolished its self-imposed 'blue line' boundary and opened up a 117-square-mile area for annexation." (51) Early in July, 1985, Aurora annexed a 70 acre parcel to start "...what is expected to be a patchwork of annexations this sunnier that will increase the city's size by about 50 square miles." (52) Much of Aurora's new annexations would depend on the development of the proposed E-470 highway. The city would probably only annex land in this area to capture expected sales tax revenues.
In early July, the city also annexed 446 acres for the proposed Senac Reservoir where "(c)ity planners envision...a family playground, complete with reservoir-related recreation, a revitalized race track, a fairgrounds and, if the issue is revived, a stadium." (53) This kind of facility could be a very attractive development, not to mention the substantial revenues that could be generated. Aurora is pursuing aggressive water-acquisition and development policies through these actions and through encouragement of such large-scale retail projects as developer Bill Walters' proposed "...plan to build a giant retail and office complex patterned after the 'Galleria' developments in Dallas and Houston." (54)
Aurora is learning very well how to make growth pay for itself, particularly through sales tax generation, and how to make it pay for other services and facilities provision, for example, stadiums or police service. Aurora, "...which has been blessed with a treasury that seemed to fill effortlessly with revenues from rapid growth..." is now "...a little bit concerned about the...listlessness in the economy that is certainly being reflected in our current sales tax collections...". (55) This city's "...sales tax has normally gone up 20 percent a year. This year (it's growing at a) rate of 10 percent...and federal revenue sharing has been all but eliminated and community block grants will be tougher to get. Those factors have prompted (the Aurora city manager) to order Aurora department heads to spend 5 percent to 10 percent less than the 1985 budget allows...". (56) For example, these "(s)erious shortages in Aurora tax revenues have forced the city to scuttle plans to hire new police officers and firefighters...". (57) With talk at the federal level of closing Fitzsimmons, another substantial revenue source for the city will be removed. The city also has an organization to help business locate in the city, ECO Aurora. It is no wonder Aurora is aggressively seeking to expand other potential revenue sources through the above growth policy actions.
Littleton has come to realize the importance of sales tax revenues to funding government and is pursuing these revenues but has not received the headlines that Aurora has. Indeed, when Littleton is the subject of newspaper articles it could very well be on their declining school enrollments. Lower enrollments may cause some elementary schools to be closed since "(s)chool records show there were 9,130 elementary
students in the district in 1972, while enrollment as of October 1, 1983, was 7,425." (58) This represents a decrease of 23 percent. Charles Blosten, Littleton's director of public services, was quoted on this problem as saying "The community needs to find ways to attract families to Littleton. How do we keep Littleton viable and a lively community for younger families?" (59)
Littleton is experiencing symptoms of a mature suburb and has to work to stem their possible decline. One way is through stimulation of economic development and in 1978, the "...Littleton City Council explored a number of financial alternatives within the context of a Five Year Financial Policy for the City. Out of these deliberations, Council decided that the most promising alternative to assure a healthy economic base was...'to promote new industrial and commercial tax base.' Active promotion, use of development incentives, and other methods of attracting business were endorsed as general implementation strategies. At the same time, City council approved formation of an Economic Development Division and appointed an Economic Advisory Committee made up of representatives from the private sector-banking, development, industry, real estate, and finance sectors." (59) This Economic Development Division works with developers and industry to facilitate their location in Littleton and lias promoted six primary commercial areas in Littleton, notably the soon-to-be-inaugurated Riverfront Festival Center which should do a great deal to inject Littleton's ailing sales tax revenues with fresh dollars, although bonds issued for the development must be repaid
Both municipalities seem to have a good grasp on where and how they want to grow. Both need to be careful, however, not to let their growth become uncontrollable or burdensome. With proper management of fiscal resources, each community should be able to grow as they see fit and provide a pleasant and acceptable quality of life for
II. FINANCIAL ANALYSIS
With all the upward pressures on municipal government expenditures discussed above, it is no wonder that a community may be overburdened when it comes to paying for service provision. Expenditures may be too high given the resources available to the municipality and/or revenues flowing into the city coffers may be inadequate, given the demands of the citizenry.
Determining the Potential for Excessive Municipal Fiscal Burden
Municipal finance problems usually do not develop suddenly. Identifying a city's financial strengths and weaknesses before an irreversible problem develops is necessary if local government officials are to be able to manage their fiscal resources. Many measures have been recognized and developed to try and pinpoint where excessive municipal spending is taking place or where there is potential for the municipality to be fiscally stressed. Mature suburbs such as Littleton may often find themselves under a greater financial burden because "(m)ature suburbs historically had (sufficient local) resources as they were the traditional commercial and other business sector hubs of the suburban landscape. The whittling of the mature suburbs' regional hegemony, however, has depleted their affluence, so much so that they are beginning to feel the pinch of supporting generous municipal outlays from their own means." (29) Those communities losing population, retail vitality and intergovernmental aid are the most vulnerable to fiscal problems.
Planners, political scientists and sociologists have attempted to develop ways to quantify the level of fiscal burden that a city is under in trying to provide services to the community. Many studies have been done to try and identify urban stress/distress/decline/hardship. Social and economic stress measures have been developed, in addition to financial indicators. Common analysis variables in the realm of financial indicators include the levels of spending, local revenues, taxes as a percent of local income, and intergovernmental aid. These measures may be analyzed separately or combined into a single ranking for comparative purposes. Several of these composite ranking systems have been developed, for example, the Brookings Hardship Index or the U.S. Treasury's Urban Fiscal Strain Index. As of 1980, approximately 15 urban distress measures had been developed, followed by comparable suburban distress measures in 1981-2. (30)
Different financial indicators and statistical procedures are used to measure hardship but common themes emerge in these analyses. Monetary figures are often analyzed in real dollars on a per capita basis as this is useful for comparison purposes. Differences in spending within a community over time and between communities are frequently compared to have a profile of revenue and expenditure patterns over time. Usually, those municipalities spending more are more prone to financial distress, but for a complete picture, revenues must also be analyzed. This is necessary because "...while spending is the driving force of fiscal strain, there are certain mitigating factors. Two
important considerations are: 1) the share of local spending which must be absorbed or paid for locally; and 2) local affluence, both income and property, available to shoulder the net local cost." (31) Therefore, local fiscal stress is dependent on local spending in relation to local resources and the amount of intergovernmental aid received.
The concept of fiscal strain encompasses both expenditure and revenue considerations but expenditures are often focused on because mature suburbs are usually affluent (e.g. by per capita income or property value measures) and their financial stress is a function of high municipal expenditures. Also, municipal reaction to fiscal strain has frequently focused on reducing public outlays, not on raising taxes, an extremely unpopular political decision. The amount of municipal spending indicates the scope of local services and the amount of revenues that need to be raised to provide those services. Uncontrolled or haphazard growth impacts expenditure profiles. In addition to the composition of the tax base and other municipal revenue variables, variations in local service costs have been correlated with municipal size, growth rate, population size, degree of urbanism and similar variables. Studies have shown that "...municipal outlays will be higher in instances where the median voter is affluent and has a relatively low property tax share and where the community ...has a significant nonresidential sector, and receives reasonable levels intergovernmental aid. (32) With a low property tax and high intergovernmental aid, citizens may be unaware of the true costs of service provision, as discussed previously.
Financial Strain in the Case Study Communities
Ten financial indicators will be utilized to analyze our case study communities to determine their level of fiscal strain. Both expenditure and revenue financial indicators will be used, as well as community resource indicators (for example, personal income).
With the expenditure financial indicators, the focus is on the level and direction of spending through per capita expenditure outlays over time, as well as looking at how heavy the burden of municipal spending is to the local taxpayers. This will be done by studying the relationship of per capita expenditures to per capita personal income and property tax burden to per capita personal income. In addition, the level of spending in "stress-indicative categories such as public safety, overhead and debt" (33) will be compared between the two communities and over time.
In the revenue analysis, the source and amount of revenues will be analyzed. The intergovernmental aid financial indicator is intended to show how much the municipality will suffer if cutbacks in the level of funding occur. To study the tax burden on residents, the level of burden will be determined by looking at per capita property tax burden and municipal tax burden (per capita property taxes divided by per capita personal income). Local affluence is gauged through per capita personal income.
Through a comparison of financial indicators over time and between the two case study communities, we can try to pinpoint where warning trends indicating potential future financial burden for the municipality exist. Then steps could be taken to remedy potential problems that might result. Since Littleton is an example of a mature suburb and Aurora the example of a growing suburb, we expect to find that Littleton is more fiscally stressed than Aurora.
Potential fiscal stress/strain for the case study communities will be determined from analysis of ten financial indicators and means that the level of expenditures and/or revenues show a warning trend in terms of potential financial burden. Each indicator has a warning trend associated with it; that is, if the financial indicator ratio increases or decreases in a certain direction, this may indicate a potential fiscal burden for the municipality in that category. A discussion of the components of each financial indicator and its application to and implications for Aurora and Littleton follows.
These indicators are similar to ones developed by the International City Management Association and are intended to help define potential problem areas and show their development over time. The ten ratios that will be used for analysis are :
Financial Indicator #1
capita indicator is intended to show the stability of the income of the municipality. If increasing service demands are placed on the municipality, its revenues need to increase to keep pace with expenditures. It is also important to be aware of the sources from which revenues are being generated from to effectively pinpoint revenue enhancement strategies. A warning trend would be indicated if revenues per capita are decreasing over time.
Financial Indicator #2 = Intergovernmental Revenues/Operating Revenues This indicator is important because it shows a municipality's vulnerability to federal/state cutbacks. An urban city and a suburb might spend the same amount per capita but if the city received more intergovernmental aid the suburb would have more of a tax burden on its residents. Conversely though, the city might be more prone to fiscal hardship in the face of decreased intergovernmental financial aid. Each entity would then have to focus on different ameliorating strategies.. Increasing intergovernmental revenues as a percent of operating revenues or a large reliance on such aid warrants a warning trend here.
Financial Indicator #3 = Elastic Revenues/Operating Revenues -This indicator shows the trend in elastic revenues as a percent of operating revenues. Elastic revenues here are considered to be revenues that are responsive to changes in the economic base and inflation. This is important because these types of revenues will
usually increase as costs increase and can therefore be relied upon more than such revenues as intergovernmental aid. The amount of sales tax collected was considered to be a good indicator for elastic revenues and is used here. A warning trend is considered to be decreasing elastic revenues as a percent of operating revenues.
Financial Indicator #4 = Debt Service/Operating Revenues -The amount of debt service is an important indicator because a large debt service can be symptomatic of community aging and increasing resident demand. Even though debt service is not usually repaid from operating revenues, this is a valid indicator to see if debt service is too large. "If debt service on net direct debt exceeds 20 percent of operating revenues, it is considered a potential problem. Ten percent is considered good." (34)
Financial Indicator #5 = Property Tax Revenues/Consumer Price Index in Decimal Property tax revenues are included in the analysis as this indicates the level of spending borne locally. "Increasing property tax levies and rates, growing dependence on intergovernmental transfers, and stagnant or decreasing local property value and or resident income signal potential future hardship." (35) A warning trend is indicated if property taxes are decreasing over time, after inflation is taken into account through the use of the Consumer Price Index, in comparison to the corresponding annual population increase.
Financial Indicator #6 = Expenditures/Population This is one of the most important determinants of excessive financial burden since "...spending is the driving force of fiscal strain...". (36) Differences in municipal service costs reflect variations in service output and efficiency as well as fixed costs and overhead. Excessive spending in "...stress-indicative categories such as police, welfare, statutory and debt...signals danger because it is symptomatic of community aging and growing resident population demand and the need for certain, and often quite expensive, public services. Thus, community maturity is often accompanied by enhanced pressures on the police and fire departments." (37) Increasing net operating expenditures per capita constitutes a warning trend here. Spending in each service category, e.g., general government, public works, public safety, etc. will also be considered.
Financial Indicator #7 = Employee s/Popula tion This is a useful indicator because personnel costs are usually a substantial portion of a city's operating budget and because the number of employees per capita indicates the extent of the scope and efficiency of services. Increasing employees per capita indicates a warning trend.
Financial Indicator #8 = Real Per Capita Property Tax Levy or Municipal Expenditure/Real Per Capita Income An important consideration when analyzing fiscal stress is the level of financial burden to local residents, i.e., how heavily does paying
for expenditures weigh on the population's ability to pay. FI8 considers two measures of burden to the taxpayer. One measures the relationship of per capita property tax to per capita personal income and the other measures the relationship of per capita municipal expenditures to per capita personal income. The property tax to personal income ratio shows more fully the burden to individuals since the amount of intergovernmental aid would be a factor, thereby reducing the actual property tax burden. The amount of property tax paid and municipal expenditure burden is more meaningful when related to the communities' ability to pay so it is useful to relate these measure to per capita income. A warning trend is indicated by increasing or relatively high property tax or municipal expenditure burden.
Financial Indicator #9 = Population Growth Rate The
population growth rate was included as an indicator since sudden or dramatic increases or decreases in population indicate a warning trend and can strain a municipality's service delivery effectiveness and/or efficiency. In addition, "(c)hanges in population can have a direct effect in revenues, employment, income and property values." (38)
Financial Indicator #10 = Personal Income/Population Changes
in personal income reflect the level of affluence a community has attained and the ability to pay for services demanded. If expenditures remain stable and personal income declines, the
burden on the taxpayer's ability to pay taxes would increase. A drop in per capita personal income would also result in a decrease in consumer purchasing power and therefore a decrease in the level of sales tax collected, thus impairing the municipality's revenue generating capacity. A decrease in the growth rate of personal income would be a warning trend.
All dollar figures have been deflated by the Consumer Price Index to increase the validity of comparisons over time, since, with inflation, expenditures and revenues will naturally increase. The Consumer Price Index figures used are: 1970 116.3, 1980 246.8, 1984 323.0. (39) The base figures used for each financial indicator were collected from each city's budgets for the appropriate years used in the analysis. The years of 1970, 1980 and 1984 were used to ascertain and compare recent temporal trends. The municipalities' revenue and expenditure figures used for 1970, 1980 and 1984 were gleaned from that year's successive budget in order to use actual, not projected revenues and expenditures. Other data used, such as personal income figures, were taken from census data or from local planning departments, as in the case of population figures. All figures gathered and used to calculate each financial indicator is included in Appendix A.
Table 8 summarizes the subjective rankings of whether a warning trend is indicated for each of the financial indicators. After a study of the data and graphs for each of the ten financial indicators, they were ranked as to whether a low, moderate, high or no warning trend existed for that indicator depending on how substantial the increase or decrease of the ratio was and how each community fared next to the other. Following the summary chart are the data tables and graphs for each of the financial indicators. Each data table indicates the direction of the warning trend that signals potential fiscal stress. Included with and preceding each of the data table/graph sets is an analysis section discussing the implications of each of the financial indicators. Included with two of the financial indicator sections, revenues per capita and expenditures per capita, are additional charts showing breakdowns of these items into more discrete categories.
From Table 8, both Littleton and Aurora have a low to moderate potential for future fiscal stress occurring although Littleton appears to be in slightly better financial condition having apparently taken steps to reduce expenditures since 1980, according to the data. Five of the ten financial indicators for Littleton show no warning trend. FovAp of Aurora's financial indicators show no warning trend. Neither city exhibits a high warning trend on any financial indicator, therefore, neither is considered to be excessively financially burdened. However, expenditure functions that need to be trimmed and revenue categories that should be enhanced will be identified.
Table 8. FINANCIAL INDICATORS SUMMARY
Warning Trend Indicated?
Financial Indicator Aurora Li ttleton
1 - Revenues/Population None None
2 - Intergovernmental Revenues None Moderate
3 - Elastic Tax Revenues None Low
4 - Debt Service Low Low
5 - Property Tax Revenues Low None
6 - Expendi tures/Population Moderate None/Low
7 - Employees/Population Moderate None
8 - Property Tax and Municipal Expenditure Burden Low Low
9 - Population Growth Rate None None
10 - Personal Income Low Moderate
None, Low, Moderate, High
FI1 In Table FI 1, revenues/capita, both Aurora and Littleton show steady growth from 1970 to 1980. However, from 1980 to 1984, revenues per capita in both communities have been almost level,as indicated by Graph 1. Neither municipality shows a warning trend since revenues have not decreased,however, specific revenue sources could use improvement which will be addressed further. Aurora and Littleton both need to explore ways to continue increasing their revenues per capita.
An examination of the adjunct Tables Financial Indicator 1A and Financial Indicator IB, which show the breakdown of sources of revenues for each community, indicates that each municipality could enhance the revenue generating capacity of selected sources. While Aurora has more than doubled their taxes in the 1970 to 1984 time period, they have also increased their charges for services substantially from $1 per capita in 1970 to $6 per capita in 1984, thereby encouraging citizens to be more aware of service costs. In comparison, Littleton only received $3 per capita from charges for services in 1984 and should improve on the revenue producing capacity of this category. Littleton also relies too heavily on intergovernmental aid, as FI2 discusses. This dependency should be reduced. Littleton's tax revenues, of which sales tax is the main component, has essentially stagnated since 1980 and could be improved. The 1970 to 1980 growth rate was 6 percent annually while the 1980 to 1984 annual increase was only 2 percent. The city is apparently not capturing as much of the sales tax dollars as it could with its older retail establishments. Aurora could also improve on tax generation,
i.e., sales, since the annual increase in this category from 1980 to 1984 is less than from 1970 to 1980. In addition, the growth rate of revenues per capita needs to be compared to the growth rate of expenditures per capita to make sure expenditures are not increasing faster than revenues. This will be done in the findings portion of the Financial Analysis section. Although Littleton generated more revenues per capita than Aurora in 1984, if intergovernmental revenues were subtracted, Aurora would exhibit more revenues per capita so the cities are in similar condition in terms of Financial Indicator 1.
Table Financial Indicator 1. REVENUES/CAPITA
Equals Net Operating Revenues (constant $) / Population WARNING TREND Decreasing net operating revenues per capita
Year Operating Revenues Population FI 1
1970 $2,019,569 27,364 $73.80
1980 $3,693,464 28,631 $129.00
1984 $4,145,863 31,020 $133.65
1970 $4,038,964 79,450 $50.84
1980 $18,794,571 158,588 $118.51
1984 $24,444,917 203,300 $120.24
Littleton No warning trend Aurora warning trend
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Table Financial Indicator 1A. PER CAPITA REVENUES BY SOURCE AURORA Adjusted for Inflation
SOURCE 1970 1980 1984
Taxes $40 00 00 $96
Licenses and Permits $1 $3 $5
Intergovernmental Revenue $5 $11 $9
Charges for Services $1 $2 $6
Fines and Forfeits $2 $2 $2
Miscellaneous $1 $14 $2
TOTAL $51 $119 $120
Table Financial Indicator IB. PER CAPITA REVENUES BY SOURCE
LITTLETON Adjusted for Inflation
SOURCE 1970 1980 1984
Taxes $47 $75 $80
Licenses and Permits $6 $2 $14
Intergovernmental Revenue $17 $44 $29
Charges for Services $1 $1 $3
Fines and Forfeits $2 $2 $2
Mi scellaneous $2 $5 $5
TOTAL $74 $129 $134
FI2 Intergovernmental revenues as a percent of operating revenues is shown in Table FI2 and Graph 2. Littleton shows a moderate warning trend here. Although its share of intergovernmental revenues has decreased slightly as a percent of operating revenues, Littleton still relies heavily on intergovernmental revenues at 22% of operating revenues. This could be cause for concern. Aurora, in contrast, is in healthy shape in terms of FI2 and shows no warning trend. The city has decreased its reliance on intergovernmental revenues by almost 25% since 1970 to a low 7.6% of operating revenues. This compares very favorably next to Littleton's current 22%. Littleton's fiscal strain warning trend is only moderate for FI2 because the average contribution nationwide to a city's revenues by intergovernmental aid was 39% in 1980, as noted earlier, although this has probably decreased in the last several years under President Reagan. As Tables FIlA and FIlB showed, per capita intergovernmental revenues for Aurora and Littleton were $9 and $29, respectively. This again shows the need for Littleton to decrease reliance on intergovernmental aid, with such a high relative figure. However, Littleton by no means relies as heavily on this sort of revenue as other, more urban areas. In a study of New Jersey communities published in 1983, the urban communities, presumably much older than the relatively young Littleton, were shown to receive $154 of intergovernmental aid per capita in 1980. This accounted for nearly 41% of these communities' revenues. (40) Littleton, while it needs to decrease its reliance on intergovernmental revenues, is in nowhere near such dire straits.
Table Financial Indicator 2 INTERGOVERNMENTAL REVENUES
Equals Intergovernmental Revenues / Operating Revenues
WARNING TREND Increasing intergovernmental revenues as 2 of gross
operating revenues or a heavy reliance on intergovernmental revenues
Year Intergovernmental Revenues Operating Revenues FI 2
1970 $463,022 $2,019,569 22.92
1980 $1,254,048 $3,693,464 34.02
1984 $910,072 $4,145,863 22.02
1970 $403,085 $4,038,964 10.02
1980 $1,684,003 $18,794,571 9.02
1984 $1,867,828 $24,444,917 7.62
Littleton Moderate warning trend Aurora No warning trend
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FI3 Aurora's elastic tax revenues have increased at a steady rate since 1970 and account for almost 60 percent of operating revenues. This represents a sound economic base for the city that can be relied upon. Littleton shows a low warning trend here since elastic revenues decreased as a percent of operating revenues from 1980 to 1984, from 45 percent to 43 percent. Also, Littleton's 43 percent share is below Aurora's 58 percent share, reducing Littleton's ability to rely on inflation adjusted revenues. In addition, when sales tax collected per capita is considered, Littleton shows stagnant revenues from 1980 to 1984, after almost doubling the sales tax collected per capita from 1970 to 1980. Littleton definitely needs to increase their sales tax collections per capita and as a percent of operating revenues.
Table Financial Indicator 3 ELASTIC TAX REVENUES Equals Elastic Revenues / Operating Revenues
WARNING TREND Decreasing amount of elastic operating revenues as % of operating revenues
Year Sales Tax Operating Revenues FI 3
1970 $803,995 $2,019,569 39.8%
1980 $1,665,316 $3,693,464 45.1%
1984 $1,800,182 $4,145,863 43.4%
1970 $1,750,215 $4,038,964 43.3%
1980 $9,739,870 $18,794,571 51.8%
1984 $14,174,096 $24,444,917 58.0%
Littleton No warning trend Aurora No warning trend
G ra p h
ELASTIC TAX REVENUE:
Littleton + Aurora
FI4 Neither Aurora nor Littleton suffers from too large a debt service since neither exceeds the problem threshold of 20 percent of operating revenues mentioned above. We can classify each, however, in terms of FI4 as exhibiting a low warning trend because Aurora's debt as a percent of operating revenues has increased more than twofold from 1980 to 1984 to almost 5 percent. In addition, although Littleton has decreased its debt service between 1970 and 1984, their debt service as a percent of operating revenues is still 47 percent larger than Aurora's and will therefore be classified as exhibiting a warning trend even though their percentage is decreasing. Neither city is suffering from fiscal stress from a large debt service but each should monitor the level of debt service in the future, as they are no doubt doing. The cities need not take any action to try and reduce debt service growth unless there is a danger of breaking the threshold of debt service equalling more than 10 percent of operating revenues.
Table Financial Indicator 4 DEBT SERVICE
Equals Debt Service / Operating Revenues
WARNING TREND Increasing amount of debt service as a % of operating revenues
Year Debt Service Operating Revenues FI 4
1970 $181,970 $2,019,569 9.0%
1980 $277,094 $3,693,464 7.5%
1984 $299,582 $4,145,863 7.2%
1970 $53,340 $4,038,964 1.3%
1980 $349,870 $18,794,571 1.9%
1984 $1,207,993 $24,444,917 4.9%
Littleton Low warning trend Aurora Low warning trend
G i"a p h 4.
Ax a Percent 'of Operating Re/'
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l\ SJ Aurora
FI5 Littleton exhibits no warning trend in terms of FI5. Between 1970 and 1980, as Table FI5 shows, Littleton's growth in property tax revenues was less than the corresponding population increase. This would normally be cause for concern, however, from 1980 to 1984, Littleton shows a greater increase in property tax revenues than the corresponding population increase, a healthy indication of fiscal stability in terms of property tax revenues and of increasing ability to pay on the part of residents.
The figures for Aurora's property tax revenues indicate a low warning trend exists, however. From 1970 to 1980, Aurora's property tax revenues grew at a very healthy 16% annually, compared to only a 10% annual increase in population. From 1980 to 1984 though, Aurora's annual property tax revenue increase grew at only a 2% rate while the population increase was 7% yearly. The probable causes for this large turnabout in property tax revenues needs to be determined. If this drop in property tax revenues is the result of a conscious decision to rely less heavily on this sort of revenue and more heavily on the elastic sales tax revenues there would be little cause for concern, but if it was not a conscious decision the situation needs to be monitored and perhaps ameliorated.
Table Financial Indicator 5 PROPERTY TAX REVENUES
Equals Property Tax Revenues / Consumer Price Index in Decimal
WARNING TREND Decline or negative growth in property tax revenues to the corresponding annual population increase
Corresponding Annual Annual
Property Percent Population
Year Tax Revenues CPI in Decimal FI 5 Increase Increase
1970 $453,367 1.2 $389,825
1980 $988,151 2.5 $400,385 0.3% 0.5%
1984 $1,441,447 3.2 $446,213 2.9% 2.1%
1970 $1,404,872 * 1.2 $1,207,972
1980 $7,706,034 2.5 $3,122,380 15.8% 10.0%
1984 $10,948,964 3.2 $3,389,352 2.1% 7.0%
SOURCE: Figures from Arapahoe County Assessor's Office and Adams County Treasurer's Office. Figure is from Aurora's Annual Budget.
Littleton No warning trend Aurora Low warning trend
(cue'll I w)
Gra p h
P R 0 P E RTY TAX R EV E N U ES
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FI6 Both cities have experienced substantial upward pressures in terms of service demand. Littleton's expenditures per capita have decreased since 1980, a healthy fiscal sign, after substantial increases during the 1970's. Since 1980, Littleton seems to have adopted a policy of greater fiscal restraint as indicated by FI6. Before 1980, expenditures grew 12 percent annually, while after 1980 expenditures per capita dropped by 1 percent annually. Littleton seems to be curbing costs well, since 1980. However, Littleton was ranked as having None/Low warning trend here since individual expenditure categories could stand reductions, as discussed below in the section on Financial Indicator 6A.
Aurora's expenditure/capita have increased 260% since 1970. Annual increases from 1970 to 1980 averaged 18%. Expenditures per capita from 1980 to 1984 have not increased at nearly as fast an annual rate (6.6%), but the increases are still large considering that the figures are in real dollars. Aurora's expenditure per capita need to be monitored and the growth rate decreased even further, especially if tax burden to citizens is found to be high (Financial Indicator 8). Aurora shows a moderate warning trend here due to increasing expenditures per capita.
Table Financial Indicator 6 EXPENDITURES PER CAPITA
Equals Operating Expenditures / Population
EARNING TREND Increasing net operating expenditure/ capita
Year Expendi tures Population FI 6
1970 $1,723,396 27,364 $63
1980 $3,945,490 28,631 $138
1984 $4,128,775 31,020 $133
1970 $3,599,048 79,450 $45
1980 $20,225,022 158,588 $128
1984 $32,859,079 203,300 $162
Littleton Low warning trend Aurora Moderate warning trend
Graph 6, EXPENDITURES PER CAPITA
Liii I it on
Financial Indicator 6A The second financial indicator section on
expenditures breaks down expenditures into each service category. From this, it is evident which expenditure categories cost the most money. As Table FI6A shows, public safety accounts for the largest percent of total operating revenues 33% for Aurora and a substantial 47% for Littleton in 1984. Public safety is one of the first places Littleton should look in any attempt to cut expenditures, and especially the fire service component of public safety. In 1980, the New Jersey study communities allocated approximately one-third of their operating expenses to public safety, (41) so again, Littleton seems to spend too much in this category. Both Aurora and Littleton spent approximately 25% of their operating revenues on general government services in 1984. This category should also be considered for budget cutting, especially since personnel costs undoubtedly make up a substantial portion of this.
Aurora devotes 12% of their operating revenues to parks and recreation while Littleton contributes nothing out of their operating revenues to this service. This is due to the existence of the self-supporting South Suburban Parks and Recreation District. Perhaps such an arrangement for Aurora would be beneficial to their fiscal health. Littleton expends 9 percent of operating expenditures on their library while Aurora devotes only 3.4 percent. Since Aurora has a fine library system that seems to serve its residents well, perhaps Littleton could shave costs in this category. Aurora supports a Central Library and five branches while Littleton has only one library (however,
Littleton supports a small museum in this category also). Aurora spends substantially more on public works than Littleton does. Possibly Littleton has paid for the major part of their road network in the past and therefore does not need to devote as much to that as the fast growing Aurora does. Perhaps Aurora needs to slow their growth or attempt to exact more developer contributions, if that is feasible.
Table Financial Indicator 6A. DISTRIBUTION OF MUNICIPAL OPERATING EXPENDITURES
CASE STUDY COMMUNITIES
1970 1980 1984
SERVICE Aurora Li ttleton Aurora Li ttleton Aurora Li ttleton
General Government 17.8% 23.3% 13.2% 27.5% 27.2% 25.3%
Public Safety 46.3% 44.1% 35.2% 43.9% 33.2% 46.6%
Fire 16.8% 25.5% 13.0% 26.9% 12.1% 27.5%
Pol ice 21.1% 18.0% 20.5% 17.0% 17.4% 19.2%
Public Works 18.0% 22.1% 37.7% 20.3% 24.5% 19.0%
Recreation & Culture 17.9% 10.6% 13.9% 8.3% 15.2% 9.1%
Parks & Recreation 14.0% 11.3% 11.8%
Library, etc. 3.9% 10.6% 2.6% 8.3% 3.4% 9.1%
Total Operating 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
RIB UTIO N 0 F EX PEN DITU R ES
,A, t _J R R ,A,
(1 a.2K.j Rec.&Culture
rP24.SS,,l Public -Works \
\ General Government
DISTRIBUTION OF EXPENDITURES-LITTLETOI
i>. i y.j
C'i 9.0%'j / Public Works /
\ General Government
FI7 Since 1980, Littleton seems to have done well in controlling the number of employees. The number of employees per capita has even been reduced by almost 10% from 1980 to 1984 after a 7% annual increase from 1970 to 1980. Aurora's FI7 growth rate was 3.1% annually from 1970 to 1980 and 4.4% annually from 1980 to 1984. Although Aurora and Littleton have almost the same number of employees per capita, Littleton has been decreasing their number of employees since 1980 while Aurora's have continued to increase, at an accelerating rate. These figures warrant a moderate warning trend for Aurora and no warning trend for Littleton. An attempt should be made by Aurora to reduce the number of employees per capita, unless a conscious decision is made that this level of employees/services is desirable and affordable.
Table Financial Indicator 7 EMPLOYEES/CAPITA Equals Number of Municipal Employees / Population WARNING TREND Increasing number of employees per capita
Year Employees Population FI 7
1970 153 27,364 0.0056
1980 276 28,631 0.0096
1984 274 31,020 0.0088
1970 486 79,450 0.0061
1980 1,264 158,588 0.0080
1984 1,912 203,300 0.0094
Littleton No warning trend Aurora Moderate warning trend
Employees p-?r Capita
G ra p h
EM P L 0Y E E S P E R C A PITA
Littleton + Aurora
FI8 Both cities exhibit low warning trends here. Littleton's burden is higher than Aurora's but may have changed since their apparent attempts at holding down costs since 1980. (1984 personal income figures are unavailable.) Both cities' burdens are low, in relation to the urban New Jersey study communities mentioned above, and roughly comparable to the suburban communities in the study. According to Table FI8, the relative municipal expenditure burden for Littleton and Aurora in 1980 was 3.6 and 3.5 percent respectively. This same statistic for the urban New Jersey community in 1980 was a large 7.9? while the mature suburbs averaged a relative municipal expenditure burden of 2.5? and the growing suburbs averaged 1.72. ) Given these comparisons, our case study communities could stand to decrease, their municipal expenditure burdens into the 2.52 range or below. The growth rates of each are also high and need to be monitored. For example, Aurora's municipal expenditure burden increased a substantial 40? annually from 1970 to 1980 and Littleton's increased almost 26? annually- during the same period. The municipal expenditure burden for residents needs to be decreased for both communities, although these figures have surely changed since 1980. Unfortunately, personal income figures were unavailable for the two municipalities for 1984.
The relative property tax burden has not increased at nearly so large a rate. Although Littleton's doubled during the time period under question, from 0.2? to 0.4?, and Aurora's nearly doubled, from 0.3? to 0.5?, this figures are still substantially below the comparable figures for the New Jersey study communities, which show property tax burdens of at least 42 or greater. ) This suggests that property taxes could even potentially be raised.
Table Financial Indicator 8 PROPERTY TAX AND MUNICIPAL EXPENDITURE BURDEN
Equals Real Per Capita Property Tax Levy or Municipal Expenditures / Real Per Capita Income
WARNING TREND Increasing or relatively high property tax or municipal expenditure burden
Li ttleton Year Real Per Capita Municipal Operating Expenditures Real Per Capita Property Tax Levy Real Per Capita Income Relative Municipal Expendi ture Burden Relative Property Tax Burden
1970 $63 $14 $6,626 1.0* 0.2%
1980 $138 $14 $3,795 3.6% 0.4%
1970 $38 $15 $5,588 0.7% 0.3%
1980 $128 $20 $3,616 3.5% 0.5%
Littleton Low warning trend Aurora Low warning trend
FI9 Littleton's moderate growth rate should enable it to plan for service provision effectively. Although Aurora's growth rate has decreased, it still exhibits a healthy percent increase yet not so much of an increase that service demands would outstrip service provision capability. Neither municipality exhibits a
Table Financial Indicator 9 POPULATION
WARNING TREND Decreasing level of growth rate or a sudden increase in population
Year Population Growth Rate
1980 28,631 0.52;
1984 31,020 2.1%
1980 158,588 10.0%
1984 203,300 7.0%
Littleton No warning trend Aurora No warning trend
_ Yea r
['' /'I Lrttletan |\ J Aurora
FI10 Both cities' per capita personal incomes have declined,
after inflation is taken into account, and therefore exhibit warning trends. This reduces residents' ability to pay for services. Care needs to be taken to assure that the property tax and municipal expenditure burdens (FI8) do not rise too high, given people's declining purchasing power. Since it was determined in the analysis of FI8, expenditure and property tax burden, that the growth rates of these two indicators was too high, this could represent a substantial burden to residents. "One consequence of high tax burden is growing property owner reluctance to satisfy their municipal tax obligation." (44) This burden could grow more severe since "(p)rojections of personal income in the Denver metropolitan area indicate expected growth less than that experienced during the past decade (the 1970s). The ncminal income projections (by the Denver Regional Council of Governments) reflect a continued erosion of real income growth..." (emphasis added). (45) Extra care needs to be taken by our case study communities to not unduly financially burden residents when per capita personal incomes are declining.
Table Financial Indicator 10 PERSONAL INCOME
Equals Personal Income (constant dollars) / Population
WARNING TREND Decrease in level or or growth rate of personal income per capita (in constant dollars)
Year Personal Income Growth Rate
1980 $3,795 -4.3%
1980 $3,616 -3.5%
Littleton Moderate warning trend Aurora Low warning trend
In Constant Dollars
[*' /'I Utt I eta n
Summary of Findings
Both Aurora and Littleton are presently in relatively stable financial condition. In terms of the indicators used for analysis, neither is as fiscally stressed as the northeastern New Jersey study communities mentioned above. However, as always, there is room for improvement in each city's present fiscal situation. To recap the categories for each city that need improvement, as gleaned from the financial indicators analyses:
o Needs to increase revenues per capita in certain sources, e.g., charges for services and sales tax collected.
o Dependency on intergovernmental aid must be decreased, or Littleton at least needs to be prepared for potential reductions in this category by state or federal sources.
o Expenditures per capita should be decreased in the public safety, general government and library categories.
o The municipal expenditure burden should be decreased to the 2.5% of personal income range. This is especially a problem since personal income was shown to be decreasing in real dollars. If expenditures are reduced in the above categories, this may alleviate the problem.
o Needs to increase revenues per capita in certain sources, e.g., licenses and permits and sales tax collected.
o Expenditures per capita should be decreased in the general government, public works and recreation categories.
o The municipal expenditure burden should be decreased to the 2.5% of personal income range. This is especially a problem since personal income was shown to be decreasing in real dollars. If expenditures are reduced in the above
categories, this may alleviate the problem to a degree.
o Property tax revenues have not kept pace with population increases. This situation should be monitored and improved, if possible. However, the city does not rely too heavily on
this revenue source so the decrease in the growth of
property tax revenues is not especially serious.
o The number of employees per capita should be reduced.
Now that areas needing financial improvement have been identified, the next and final section will deal with the possibilities Aurora and Littleton could utilize to increase revenues or decrease expenditures in order to achieve financial stability.
This section will first discuss generic strategies available to municipalities to help them reduce costs. These suggestions are general and could apply to any department where expenditures need to be cut. The particular departmental makeup needs to be analyzed in terms of these suggestions. The section will end with specific alternatives available to a municipality to enhance the revenue and expenditure categories that were itemized in the Findings portion of the Financial Analysis section. Both municipalities need to make conscious decisions, based on citizen input and cost estimates, as to the level of services the community desires and is willing to pay for. Then various options can be utilized based on each individual situation.
General Expenditure Reduction Strategies
A primary goal of a municipality seeking fiscal health along with the ability to deliver adequate services to the community should be to reduce municipal expenditures where feasible. Communities may not be able to provide the same scope and quality of services that they have in the past. Different entities may be able to provide services. A municipality attempting to reduce costs can either decrease service provision costs, reduce service quality or quantity, or alter service delivery strategies.
To decrease service provision costs a municipality should:
o Reduce the number of employees, e.g. through hiring freezes or through attrition. Each employee position needs to be evaluated to determine if it is necessary, or could the work be performed by an existing employee.
o Reduce payroll costs, benefits and salary fringes. Comparable salary and benefit package figures should be collected to make sure employees are not receiving more than is necessary.
o Limit non-personnel outlays, e.g., copying, travel, etc., and monitor these outlays to ensure unnecessary costs are not being incurred.
o Combine departments for economies of scale where feasible and appropriate.
o Complete analyses measuring productivity of service output (e.g. tons of garbage collected). This can be used to pinpoint inefficiency. All departments should be checked and monitored to ensure efficiency. Departments should be expected to perform at a certain service level. Standards need to be developed to monitor this and managers should be well
aware of standards.
o Encourage employee productivity through such means as merit pay for feasible cost reduction suggestions or for increased output suggestions. Staff suggestion programs could gamer many viable
strategies for expenditure reductions or efficiency increases from the people most familiar with
operations. Aurora has such a program and should encourage participation.
o Add more advanced equipment to enable employees to achieve greater output or become more efficient at their tasks.
To reduce service quality and quantity a municipality might change the existing scope of services offered. Or planned capital improvement projects could be postponed or scaled down. For example:
o Reduce the amount or scope of capital improvements expenditures.
o Reduce the number of services offered the community, for example, eliminating "non-book" lending in the municipal library (e.g., films, records).
o Reduce the frequency of a provided service, e.g., less frequent garbage pick-up, or library closure one day a week.
Alteration of service delivery strategies requires a rethinking of established channels of service delivery. Possibilities here include:
o Political consolidation of local governmental
entities to larger entities for greater economies of scale. This may be difficult to achieve, however, and is not recorrmended.
o Intergovernmental agreements can be negotiated
between governmental entities to enable more efficient service delivery. The original local
governmental body remains ultimately responsible for the service, but another governmental body, e.g. a neighboring municipality, may be able to provide the service more cheaply. Both governmental bodies would be able to benefit from such arrangements through reciprocal agreements and economies of scale. Table^ shows that the entity providing the service is frequently the county that a municipality is in. Many services could be provided this way, "services
commonly provided under intergovernmental agreements include water supply, sewage treatment, jails, police communications, libraries, animal control, resource recovery plants and public health services." (60)