The State of Our Cities & Towns
For the 10th anniversary of the State of Our Cities & Towns survey, CML
asked our members to reflect on the years since the very first report.
Looking back, what lasting challenges did the Great Recession leave for
their municipalities, and what were they able to accomplish in spite of
them? Looking forward, what is next?
Key findings of the report include:
- Most municipalities have better financial health today than just before
the recession. The most common lasting impacts of the Great Recession are
delayed maintenance of capital improvement projects and lagging economic
one-quarter of municipalities experienced no lasting impacts from the
- Feelings about the local economy and municipal revenue have improved
steadily since 2011. On average, municipalities thought their local
economy was better than the benchmark of the previous year.
- The greatest challenges municipalities face are unfunded street
maintenance and improvement needs, lack of affordable housing, tight labor
markets, unfunded water/wastewater improvement needs, increased health
insurance costs, and increased demand for municipal services.
- Major challenges have varied over the years. From 2008 to 2011, common
major challenges were slow growth in tax revenues, adverse local economic
conditions, declining state funding, and decreases in tax revenues. From
2012 to 2015, common major challenges included unfunded street maintenance
and improvement needs, federal and state mandated expenditures, and
decline in federal funding. From 2016 to 2018, common major challenges
included lack of affordable housing, tight labor market, and increased
demand for municipal services. On average, unfunded street maintenance and
improvement needs was the most common major challenge across years.
- Most municipalities have a positive financial outlook for the next five
years. Only one in 10 municipalities has a negative outlook for the next
five years; these municipalities are all small or mid-sized.
- Budget constraints and housing affordability are the two most common
challenges municipalities expect to face in the next five years.
It is constantly inspiring to me to see first hand the on-going progress
municipal leaders accomplish across Colorado in communities both urban
and rural; smallest to largest; Front Range, Western Slope, and Eastern
Municipal governments are major cogs in the economic engine of our state.
The daily quality of life we enjoy is because of a vision and a
commitment to sound municipal governance.
Our 10th anniversary report stands the test of time in providing factual
evidence that Colorado remains in good hands because of the thousands of
problem solvers working in municipal government. It is a great way to
celebrate the start of a new year, and as I reflect on my 40-year career
here at CML, I take pride in saying that the League has played a strong
role in that regard.
Empowered cities and towns, united for a strong Colorado is our vision,
and this latest State of Our Cities & Towns report proves the point quite
I would love to know what you think.