Un cauchemar pour les villes américaines

La crise immobilière est un cauchemar pour les villes américaines, les villes majeures du Québec commencent déjà à subir les mêmes types de sous-financement, sans même avoir subi une crise immobilière.

Montréal est déjà en déficit structurel, elle taxe et coupe dans les services, tel qu’expliqué dans le cahier spécial de : Une ville peut-elle faire faillite ?

Extrait de : Panique dans la ville, Richard Dupaul, La Presse, 12 octobre 2010

Provenant du rapport de la National League of Cities (NLC), organisme représentant des centaines de municipalités américaines les revenus de taxation des villes sont en baisse en moyenne de  3,2% et le pire est à venir et pour équilibrer les finances, on prévoit des coupes budgétaires d'au moins 2,3%.

Cette perte de revenu est énorme dans la mesure où les recettes foncières avaient grimpé de 4,9% en 2009, sans oublier que les administrations municipales ont largement profité du boom immobilier au début des années 2000. Le vent a donc tourné brusquement.

Les effets de la crise immobilière, qui a provoqué une crise financière mondiale, ont pris du temps à se faire sentir en ce qui concerne cet ordre gouvernemental parce que, comme on le sait, les taxes municipales sont basées sur l'évaluation foncière, laquelle prend un certain temps à s'ajuster à la valeur marchande des propriétés.

2011 et 2012

Aussi, les problèmes ne font que commencer car le plein impact de la chute des prix des maisons ne sera visible sur les avis d'imposition qu'en 2011 et 2012, selon la NLC.

Résultat: la majorité des municipalités américaines prévoient réduire leurs services ou leurs effectifs en 2010, ce qui entraînera la perte de 480 000 emplois, affirme l'organisme.

Les ennuis budgétaires des villes américaines ont des échos jusque sur les marchés financiers: les rendements exigés sur les obligations municipales sont en nette hausse, reflet de l'inquiétude grandissante des investisseurs, ce qui complique d'autant la vie des administrations publiques.

On a même frôlé la panique, il y a quelques jours, lorsque Harrisburg, la capitale de la Pennsylvanie, a dû demander l'aide de l'État... pour payer les salaires de ses employés. Un vrai cauchemar. Le Michigan, le New Jersey et la Californie ont dû aussi brancher des dizaines de villes sur le respirateur artificiel.


City Fiscal Conditions in 2010 

NLC Meet financial needs

Property tax revenues for 2010 reveal the first constant dollar decline

The effects of the well-publicized downturn in the real estate market in recent years are now evident in city property tax revenues, but do not yet reflect the full effects of the economic downturn. Collections for 2009 continued to reveal strong revenue growth as assessments caught up with the previous growth in the real estate market. Property tax revenues increased in 2009 by 4.2%, compared with 2008 levels, in constant dollars. Projected property tax collections for 2010, however, point to some of the impact of the downturn in real estate values.

Property tax revenues for 2010 reveal the first constant dollar decline (-1.8%). The full weight of the decline in housing values has yet to hit the budgets of many cities and property tax revenues will likely decline further in 2011 and 2012 as declining property values continue to be reflected in city property tax assessments.

Sale Tax decrease

Factors Influencing City Budgets

A number of factors combine to determine the revenue performance, spending levels, and overall fiscal condition of cities. Respondents are asked whether each of the factors increased or decreased from the previous year and whether the change is having a positive or negative influence on the city’s overall fiscal picture.

Leading the list of factors that finance officers say have increased over the previous year are employee health benefit costs (83%) and pension costs (81%). Infrastructure needs (76%) and public safety (68%) costs were most often noted as increasing among specific service arenas.

Expense Impact - NLC

Spending Cuts and Revenue Actions

Cuts -NLC

When asked about the most common responses to prospective shortfalls this fiscal year, by a wide margin the most common responses were instituting some kind of personnel-related cut (79%) and delaying or cancelling capital infrastructure projects (69%).

 

Ending Balances

One way that cities prepare for future fiscal challenges is to maintain high levels of general fund ending balances. Ending balances are similar to reserves, or what are often referred to as “rainy day funds,” in that they provide a financial cushion for cities in the event of a downturn or the need for an unforeseen outlay. However, as economic conditions have made balancing city budgets more difficult in 2009 and 2010, ending balances have been utilized to help fill the gap.

Ending balance - NLC

Beyond 2010

2010 reveals a number of downward trends for city fiscal conditions. The impacts of the economic downturn are becoming increasingly evident in city projections for final 2010 revenues and expenditures, and in the actions taken in response to changing conditions.

The local sector of the economy is now fully the midst of a downturn that will be several years in length. The effects of a depressed real estate market, low levels of consumer confidence, and high levels of unemployment will likely play out in cities through 2010, 2011, and beyond. The fiscal realities now confronting cities include a number of concerns:

§         Real estate markets continue to struggle and tend to be slow to recover from downturns, which is proving to be the case this time around, meaning that cities will be confronted with declines or slow growth in future property tax revenues;

§        Other economic conditions – consumer spending, unemployment, and wages – are also struggling and will weigh heavily on future city sales and income tax revenues;

§   Large state government budget shortfalls in 2010 and 2011 will likely be resolved through cuts in aid and transfers to many local governments;

§         Two of the factors that city finance officers report as having the largest negative impact on their ability to meet needs are employee-related costs for health care coverage and pensions. Underfunded pension and health care liabilities will persist as a challenge to city budgets for years to come; and

§         Facing revenue and spending pressures, cities are likely to continue to make cuts in personnel and services, and to draw down ending balances in order to balance budgets.

Confronted with these issues, 80 percent of city finance officers forecast that their cities will be less able to meet needs in 2011 than they were in 2010.

Source : Research Brief on America’s Cities, NLC, October 2010