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Politics

Florida Lands Three Cities Among America's Worst Run

January 22, 2013 - 6:00pm

The website 24/7 Wall Street has come out with its list of the best and worst run cities in America.

Dont look in the list of top 20 cities best run -- topped by Plano, Texas, and Madison, Wis. -- for an entry from Florida.

Fiscal management, including strong general obligation debt ratings from Moodys, were key for those getting high marks from the Delaware-based fiscal news website.

However, the Sunshine State does have the honor of three cities gracing the 20 worst run: Orlando, 10; Hialeah, 5; and Miami, 2.

Miami had been the top place holder a year earlier, but was edged out by San Bernardino, Calif., which last year declared bankruptcy when faced with $56 million in indebtedness payable from its general fund, the main budget, including payments on a $50 million pension bond.

The economies of the worst-run cities fall into two categories. Some were badly damaged by the housing price collapse. These include Riverside and Stockton in California and Las Vegas, Nev., 24/7 Wall Street reported.

Others have had much more long-term economic troubles. These include Detroit, St. Louis and Cleveland, whose once-booming manufacturing-based economies have been decimated by jobs going overseas.

The highlight for Orlando, which has the 17th highest rate of violent crimes per 1,000 people and the 38th highest unemployment rate, was that In 2013, the city will have to borrow $29.5 million from its reserves in order to balance the $354.2 million budget. Despite the shortfall, the budget deal did not raise property taxes and city employees will get a 3 percent raise, according to 24/7 Wall Street.

Hialeah stood out for its vast drop in housing prices and low pay among workers living in the city.

The taxpayer support for the new $600 million Marlins Stadium was listed as part of the reason for Miami, with nearly one-third of its residents living below the poverty line, retaining a top spot on the bottom.

While taxpayers pay extremely high costs to service the stadium debt, the team has traded many of its top players, 24/7 Wall Street stated.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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