UPDATED: July 18, 2013
Many local governments across the U.S. face steep budget deficits as they struggle to pay off debts accumulated over a number of years. As a last resort, some filed for bankruptcy.
Governing is tracking the issue, and will update this page as more municipalities seek bankruptcy protection.
Most recently, Detroit became the largest municipality in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy. The state had already appointed an emergency financial manager for the city, saddled with debts totaling an estimated $18 billion.
Overall, though, bankrupt municipalities remain extremely rare. A Governing analysis estimated only one of every 1,668 eligible general-purpose local governments (0.06 percent) filed for bankruptcy protection over the past five years. Excluding filings later dismissed, only one of every 2,710 eligible localities filed since 2008.
The majority of filings have not been submitted by bankrupt cities, but rather lesser-known utility authorities and other narrowly-defined special districts throughout the country. In Omaha, Neb., 10 sanitary districts have filed for bankruptcy, accounting for nearly a third of all Chapter 9 filings since 2010.
It’s also important to note that only about half of states outline laws authorizing municipal bankruptcy. View our bankruptcy laws map for each state’s policies.
List of Bankruptcy Filings Since January 2010
All Municipal Bankruptcy Filings: 36
City and Locality Bankruptcy Filings (8):
– City of Detroit
– City of San Bernardino, Calif.
– Town of Mammoth Lakes, Calf. (Dismissed)
– City of Stockton, Calif.
– Jefferson County, Ala.
– City of Harrisburg, Pa. (Dismissed)
– City of Central Falls, R.I.
– Boise County, Idaho (Dismissed)