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Best-run cities in America

  • Best-run cities in America

    Cities and towns throughout the United States vary drastically in terms of how well they are managed and operated on a daily and yearly basis. Cities that work efficiently and effectively usually have stronger economies, lower crime rates, and higher median annual incomes.

    Some of the best-run American cities, such as Boston or Huntington Beach, offer opportunities for economic growth and education, which in turn increases the quality of services and quality of life for their residents. These best-run cities also tend to attract young professionals and older, more experienced professionals looking to start or advance their careers.

    Stacker's list of the top 50 best-run U.S. cities uses data from WalletHub's Best- and Worst-Run Cities in America, published on July 1, 2019. Factors used to determine the overall quality of city services rank and score comprise weighted average scores in six key categories, including financial stability, education, health, safety, economy, and infrastructure and pollution. Scores for each of the six categories were evaluated based on 37 relevant metrics like average life expectancy, violent crime rate, quality of roads, and Moody's city credit rating, and each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 points representing the highest quality of service for each metric. The final score was also out of 100 points.

    This gallery ranks each city by its total quality of city service score and excludes total budget per capita data. A deeper dive into WalletHub's full methodology can be found here. While no city reached 100 points, the #1 city on Stacker's list received a score of 71.19 and #50 city received 56.95 points.

    Click through to learn more about America's best-run cities.

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  • #50. Manchester, New Hampshire

    - Overall quality of city services score: 55.40
    - Financial stability rank: #101
    - Education rank: #126
    - Health rank: #62
    - Safety rank: #27
    - Economy rank: #69
    - Infrastructure and pollution rank: #17

    The city of Manchester, known as New Hampshire's business capital, is led by Manchester native Mayor Joyce Craig. This city ranks relatively high in health and safety and also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

  • #49. Yonkers, New York

    - Overall quality of city services score: 55.55
    - Financial stability rank: #135
    - Education rank: #87
    - Health rank: #6
    - Safety rank: #3
    - Economy rank: #120
    - Infrastructure and pollution rank: #111

    Yonkers, New York, ranks highly in safety; the police department is reportedly diligent, which has contributed to the city's decreasing crime rate. The council comprises six district members and the council president.

  • #48. Nampa, Idaho

    - Overall quality of city services score: 55.59
    - Financial stability rank: #82
    - Education rank: #123
    - Health rank: #68
    - Safety rank: #32
    - Economy rank: #20
    - Infrastructure and pollution rank: #51

    While Nampa, Idaho, ranks #1 in total budget per capita, its quality of services drags down its overall ranking. The Idaho Statesman reports that government employees receive an average hourly wage of $24.15, which is just under the average for government employees across the nation.

  • #47. Las Vegas, Nevada

    - Overall quality of city services score: 55.64
    - Financial stability rank: #96
    - Education rank: #68
    - Health rank: #80
    - Safety rank: #65
    - Economy rank: #44
    - Infrastructure and pollution rank: #14

    In 2019, the Las Vegas City Council tested a unique way to help provide school supplies for public schools: allowing traffic offenders to pay their ticket by donating new, unopened school supplies to the Parking Service Office. The city council is notable for being both fully staffed and mostly women; in July 2019, the group brought on its first openly gay council member and its first two Latina council members.

  • #46. Washington D.C.

    - Overall quality of city services score: 55.67
    - Financial stability rank: #45
    - Education rank: #83
    - Health rank: #118
    - Safety rank: #66
    - Economy rank: #93
    - Infrastructure and pollution rank: #4

    The Washington D.C. City Council made headlines when its longest-serving council member, Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), ran afoul of ethical standards. In June 2019, the Washington Post published an internal memo from the city after Evans was found using his influence on the Metro board when courting prospective employers. Evans resigned his post on June 20, 2019.

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  • #45. Aurora, Colorado

    - Overall quality of city services score: 55.81
    - Financial stability rank: #44
    - Education rank: #117
    - Health rank: #28
    - Safety rank: #50
    - Economy rank: #23
    - Infrastructure and pollution rank: #125

    The city council of Aurora, Colorado, operates under a council and manager form of government, which combines elected officials and professionally trained government managers to run the city. Aurora ranks high in economy, and this city continues to invest in and develop its community.

  • #44. Denver, Colorado

    - Overall quality of city services score: 55.95
    - Financial stability rank: #40
    - Education rank: #143
    - Health rank: #29
    - Safety rank: #51
    - Economy rank: #32
    - Infrastructure and pollution rank: #86

    Like so many boom-and-bust Western towns, Denver has seen its highs and lows. Its current high, driven by rapid population growth and a bulletproof job market, has lasted well over a decade, and its high ranking on this list is a testament to continued opportunities luring jobseekers from across the U.S. A diverse economy and tax base with highly skilled workers and a well-managed city budget, led by Mayor Michael Hancock and a 13-member city council, help keep the city in solid financial standing. With an abysmal 80% high-school graduation rate, however, education funding lags in Denver and across Colorado with per-pupil spending of $9,575 well below the national average of $11,762.

  • #43. Arlington, Texas

    - Overall quality of city services score: 55.96
    - Financial stability rank: #56
    - Education rank: #16
    - Health rank: #85
    - Safety rank: #44
    - Economy rank: #27
    - Infrastructure and pollution rank: #130

    An integral part of the booming “Mid-Cities” region comprising the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, Arlington hosts a diverse economy of oil and gas, retail, health care, and agriculture that keeps the unemployment rate at 3.5%, almost a half-point below the national average. Mayor Jeff Williams and eight city council members preside over a balanced city budget, a low crime rate, and an excellent school system. The city's growing pollution problem, however, has garnered unfavorable comparisons to Los Angeles for thick smog emanating from tailpipe emissions and nearby oil refineries.

  • #42. Burlington, Vermont

    - Overall quality of city services score: 56.00
    - Financial stability rank: #132
    - Education rank: #20
    - Health rank: #39
    - Safety rank: #9
    - Economy rank: #106
    - Infrastructure and pollution rank: #11

    The city council of Burlington, Vermont, comprises eight ward members and four district members and a finance board. This city also has a health board that's responsible for educating the city citizens; the health board promotes, improves, and protects residents' health and well-being and actively contributes to building a healthy community and environment.

  • #41. El Paso, Texas

    - Overall quality of city services score: 56.73
    - Financial stability rank: #86
    - Education rank: #19
    - Health rank: #38
    - Safety rank: #11
    - Economy rank: #77
    - Infrastructure and pollution rank: #123

    The council of El Paso, Texas, comprises eight district members and one mayor. Despite its proximity to the violence-plagued Mexican border, El Paso has lower violent crime and property crime rates than similarly sized metropolitan areas, which explains why this city ranks highly in safety.

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