Research & Publications

The National League of Cities strives to strengthen communities, transform and improve cities, and serve as a resource for local elected officials. Our research and publications advance these goals by providing critical data, identifying promising city practices, sharing inspiring and informative stories, and fostering effective solutions and innovation. Through original content such as reports, issue briefs, news articles and blog posts, we explore the issues facing cities today and foster a dialogue that helps city leaders build better communities.

Recent
Jan 06
  • City Government

Most state and local employee retirement systems have substantial assets to weather the economic crisis.  As of September 2015, there is currently $3.56 trillion already set aside in pension trusts for current and future retirees.

Public pensions are funded and paid out over decades; state / local government retirees do not draw down their pensions all at once.

State and local…

  • Center for City Solutions
Dec 19
School building
School building
  • City Government
  • School
Background

The provision of elementary and secondary education is a key function of government today, but it was not among the rights afforded explicit protection under the U.S. Constitution. Since the Constitution did not explicitly grant the federal government authority or responsibility for education, the Tenth Amendment reserves that power to the states or to the people. As a result,…

  • Center for City Solutions
Dec 19
  • City Government
  • Budget
Background

A public budget is a plan of expected incomes and expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year, which is a twelve-month period that may or may not correspond to the calendar year. Most state governments use an annual budget cycle, just under half of the states use a biennial budget cycle which spans two years, and 2 states employ a combination of annual and biennial cycles.

A…

  • Center for City Solutions
Dec 16
  • City Government
  • Municipal Bonds
Background

The entire sector of municipal government debt is under $2 trillion according to Census Bureau figures from 2013[1].

Municipal securities are considered to be second only to Treasuries in risk level as an investment instrument.

Municipal securities are predominantly issued by state and local governments for governmental infrastructure and capital needs purposes.…

  • Center for City Solutions
Dec 16
  • City Government
  • Finance

The entire sector of municipal government debt is under $2 trillion according to Census Bureau figures from 2013[1]. This debt issuance comes from all 50 states comprising over 19,000 cities and towns, 3000 counties, 15,000 school districts and untold number of special purpose entities end enterprises such as water districts or ports authorities.

This debt is traditionally backed by…

  • Center for City Solutions
Dec 16
  • City Government
Background

Revenue is the income a local government needs to pay for all of the services it provides. A revenue structure describes the many sources of income a local government receives. The major sources of revenue include taxes, other revenue sources and intergovernmental transfers, which are defined below.

Since local governments are corporations of state government, local revenue…

  • Center for City Solutions
Dec 14
  • City Government
  • Elections
Background

Municipal election systems are determined by the nature of the council members' constituency and by the presence or absence of party labels on the ballot. With regard to the latter feature, there are two types of ballots for city council members. In partisan elections, the party affiliation of the candidate is indicated on the ballot, whereas in nonpartisan elections it is not.…

  • Center for City Solutions
Dec 14
People shaking hands
People shaking hands
  • City Government
  • Elections
Background

The form of municipal elections varies from city to city, with three common variations: some cities elect their local representatives by at-large elections, some by district, and some using a mixed system.

The election system of a given city is determined by the nature of the council members' constituency and by the presence or absence of party labels on the ballot. With…

  • Center for City Solutions
Dec 14
Park
Park
  • City Government
  • Elections
Term Lengths

The most common (roughly 50 percent of localities) mayoral and councilor term length is four years. When adding municipalities that have mayoral/councilor terms of 2 years, that covers approximately 80 percent of cities and towns.

Term Limits

Although voters nationwide imposed term limits for state legislatures in the 1990s,…

  • Center for City Solutions
Dec 14
  • City Government
  • Structure
Background

A formal joining of a city (or cities) with a surrounding county government is called a city-county consolidation. The resulting unified body assumes the responsibilities of both the city and the county. Although city-county consolidation has been the most widely attempted metropolitan reorganization model, only a modest number of city-county consolidated governments are in…

  • Center for City Solutions