Where local government money comes from

By Cate Long
April 4, 2014

Yesterday I wrote about local governments spending $100 billion a year on police, but I realize that I didn’t provide much context for how that fits into overall spending. Here are a few datasets from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 Annual Surveys of State and Local Government Finances to provide a framework.

Local governments had revenues of $1.67 trillion in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Here is how federal and state governments contributed to local government revenue flows:

Local governments generated $905 billion of their own revenue:

Local governments generated $578 billion of tax revenues:

Local governments generated $267 billion in fees and charges:

Local governments earned $134 billion in utility revenues:

Local governments also had $73 billion in insurance trust revenues and public employees contributed $73 billion in pension payments.

Local government spending on current operations:

Top eight local government spending categories:

Bottom eight local government spending categories:

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