If you live in Miami, a new study says you can rest assured that your tax dollars are well-spent.
And yes, you read that last sentence correctly.
Despite the city of Miami’s less-than-stellar reputation on matters of government finances, a study of big city spending released Monday by the personal finance site WalletHub found that Miami taxpayers’ money is spent more efficiently than in any other major municipality in the country, save only New Orleans. Hialeah — a city with its own questionable history — ranked sixth out of 78 cities.
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The WalletHub study sought to determine which cities’ taxpayers receive the best “return on investment” by studying spending on education, public safety and parks and recreation. Analysts used data from the U.S. Census Bureau, FBI and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and focused on the years 2012 through 2014.
Police spending, in which both Miami and Hialeah landed in the top 20, was measured by comparing crime rates and per-capita spending. Parks spending, in which both cities were ranked near the bottom, was measured by comparing a city’s total parks and recreation space with corresponding municipal expenses.
Both cities scored high for effective public education spending, which was measured by comparing per-capita spending with reading and math scores of eighth graders while accounting for poverty levels, median household income and foreign language speakers. The Miami-Dade County Public School District oversees schools in Miami and Hialeah.
WalletHub acknowledged that its study was not all-encompassing, since spending on infrastructure, public transportation and health proved too difficult to analyze across cities. But analyst Jill Gonzalez said the study’s results remain valid in Miami — even if they were surprising.
“We were surprised by the high overall ranking,” she said, “but it starts to make more sense when examining the different categories separately.”