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 have filed for bankruptcy.
Governing is tracking the issue, and will update this page as more municipalities seek bankruptcy protection.
Overall, 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.
Most recently, the Hardeman County Hospital District in Quanah, Texas, announced it was seeking bankruptcy protection in March. The majority of Chapter 9 bankruptcy filings have been submitted by utility authorities and other narrowly-defined special districts. In Omaha, Neb., nine Sanitary and Improvement Districts filed for bankruptcy in recent years.
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: 33
City and Locality Bankruptcy Filings (7):
-- 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)
Municipal Bankruptcies Map
The map below shows all municipalities filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection since 2010, along with local governments voting to approve a bankruptcy filing.
Cities, towns and counties are shown in red. Utility authorities and other municipalities are displayed in gray. Click a marker to view details of each filing. Multiple municipalities have filed for bankruptcy in some cities, such as Omaha, Neb., so not all markers are visible without zooming in on the map.
Please note that several municipal bankruptcy filings have been rejected, as indicated.
Last updated April 2, 2013.
In 2012, Stockton, Calif., became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy. San Bernardino, Calif., was the most recent city to approve a bankruptcy filing after City Council members learned the city had only $150,000 left in its bank accounts.
States without laws authorizing municipal bankruptcies often allow for different measures providing financial relief. In Michigan, seven cities and school districts have emergency managers, and another three are under consent agreements. Gov. Rick Snyder most recently declared a financial emergency for the city of Allen Park. View our map and story about the state's efforts to turn around the distressed municipalities.
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