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Local News

Dallas’ Finances Get an F From Truth in Accounting

It would take more than $20,000 per taxpayer to pay off the city’s debt.
By Shawn Shinneman |

Dallas is among the U.S. cities in the worst financial shape, with the pension crisis sending its debt burden plummeting toward $8 billion, according to a new report from the nonprofit Truth In Accounting (TIA).

The organization gave the city one of just eight ‘F’ ratings. To clear the debt, every taxpayer would have to give up a whopping $21,600.

Dallas is not the only city struggling under the weight of unfunded pension obligations. Across the country, pension debt accounts for about $189 billion  among the top 75 most populous cities, the majority of the $330 billion in overall debt recorded in TIA’s analysis. Another $139 billion is sunk into other post-employment benefits, mainly retiree healthcare.

Proportionally, pension obligations do even more damage here. The city has accumulated bills totaling $10.03 billion, and about $7.3 billion of that is tied up in unfunded pension benefits. Subtracting out the $2.2 billion in assets brings us to a total debt burden of $7.8 billion.

Dallas joins New York City and its $64,100-per-taxpayer burden in the ‘F’ column, as well as Chicago ($36,000), Philadelphia ($27,900), Honolulu ($23,000), San Francisco ($22,600), Oakland ($21,100), and Portland ($20,300).

Fort Worth is the Texas city with the second-highest taxpayer burden, with $3.1 billion in unfunded pension benefits pumping the city’s tab to $12,500 per taxpayer.

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