This website provides financial data and credit scores for counties and larger cities in California – roughly 500 local governments in all. The financial data comes from Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports or Audited Financials that each city is required to file. We have also collected data from pension plan actuarial reports. For each local government, we provide links to the documents we used as well as links to bond offering documents stored on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s EMMA system. Finally, we provide (hopefully) relevant news headlines for each city gathered from Google News and Yahoo News.
The credit scoring system is based on a number of financial ratios. We used statistical analysis and case study evidence to select and weight the ratios in our scoring model. The score takes the form of a “default probability” – the odds that the government won’t be able to make debt service payments on time or in full. We developed the model under a grant from the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission (CDIAC) administered by California State University (CSU). The credit scores represent our own evaluations and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CDIAC or CSU. The addition of counties was made possible by a supplemental grant from The Sunlight Foundation.
In October 2014, this web site was taken over by Civic Partner, which greatly expanded our coverage. A list of scores and profiles of the riskiest cities has been published by the California Policy Center at http://californiapolicycenter.org/californias-most-financially-stressed-cities-and-counties/.
The scoring model is discussed in the initial draft of our study (paper, external source).
Please use the Feedback tab (available on each city’s page) to tell us if you see anything wrong and to suggest improvements.