Top list: See which Utah city has more than $174,000 in debt per person

Published: Tuesday, May 1 2012 7:03 a.m. MDT

Barton Glasser, Deseret News
The national debt increased by almost $8 trillion from 2000 to 2010 and it's still rising. But what about city debt? Each city spends its money differently. It's true that cities have necessities they have to spend money on. But each has different budgets, problems and solutions. How much debt do cities in Utah have? How much revenue do they bring in? How much government debt do they have per person? Here's a list of the cities with the most and least government debt per person. The cities are ranked solely on the amount of government debt per person, according to Bloomberg.
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Orem, UT

This is kind of ridiculous. There's no reason for such widespread municipal debt in Utah, even with the recent economic woes. These cities seem to be almost as poorly managed as our national budget. Voters need to take notice and demand more responsibility from their leaders.

On the other hand
Spanish Fork, UT

Here's a suggestion, Deseret News. Instead of presenting this type of data as a "list" which feels much like a toddler's board book since you can only view one item in the list at a time, why not publish it as an interactive table? I really like the data you put in these lists, but I can't stand the presentation, especially for longer lists like this 41-item one.

Mchenry, IL

41 pages of items?

Sandy, UT

An interactive table as suggested in another comment would be a much better way to deal with this data. I understand that part of the reasoning behind the current format is to drive up page view numbers. It would be an interesting test to see if you'd get better page view numbers if you provided a better user experience.

Another item that would be really helpful is to link to the data sources used in this list. Individuals should be able to confirm the data you are presenting.


My city had to have the fancy schmancy aquatic center, man made lake, ball fields & walking paths around the entire town with a handful of council people pushing it heavily (but most voted out in recent elections). It's no wonder we're at #28. All the amenities are nice & we were just trying to be like Washington City with their fancy aquatic center (although they have larger tax base & business sector). Well, it's nice and all, but now we have big debt and a recession to boot. Seems every town has to have the fancy aquatic center with the big price tag. What ever happened to the average city swimming pool(s) in Utah? Now they have to come with playground equipment, exercise equipment, kayaks, lap pools, lazy rivers, et al!

Spanish Fork, UT

I find this list somewhat mis-informative (sic). For one, I would like to know the extent of the debt. St George has over 200 million in debt, but nothing saying what it was used for. Do they account for school district spending? Provo has it's own school district, but St George is in the Washington County SD. Schools are expensive, plus Dixie State College is a big money user in SG, but Provo doesn't spend a dime for higher level ed, thanks to BYU. So, without needed info, we can't know if said debt is misguided spending, or necessary bonds for the betterment of society.

Salt Lake City, UT

This study is flawed. Whenever the city has an abundance of vacation homes (Park City, Brianhead) the debt will be skewed. In reality, those locales may be be better off because those vacation homes do not receive the 45% residential exemption on property taxes which lessens the tax burden on local taxpayers.

Millie Bess

Very interesting article. I had now idea that a city like Draper had such high debt considering their small population.

SLC gal
Salt Lake City, UT

Spoiler alert - #1 is Brian Head. Not suprising when you consider how close it is to Park City, and the ski areas where all the ultra posh and privilaged live. Debt is all relative to what you can afford.

Lindon, UT

Was that the best picture of Lindon you had??

Cedar Hills, UT

Why a slideshow? I hate slideshows on websites! When I see one, I completely lose interest and go find something else to look at where everything is on one page. And a slideshow with 41 slides is just ridiculous!


This is an intriguing article. I personally enjoy the format, but to each his own. The amount of time and effort that must have been invested in preparing this is undoubtedly a lot. It's appreciated by a wealth of your readers.

Bountiful, UT

When I think of Murray I totally think of a political rally... and the picture for North Salt Lake is nowhere near North Salt Lake. Also, I agree with others. It got annoying looking through every page just to get to #1... Thanks SLC gal.

Central, Utah

Some good comments! I especially like the one about an interactive table rather than the pages.

The other thing that has to be considered is that it costs as much, maybe more, in real money to build a mile of road in small places, often in rural areas. Combine that with a small population that is determined to be per-capita debt and the results really tumble as in Brian Head.

I know of at least one area which made a point of bonding now since interest rates are down and thus the overall cost over the years might be less than waiting a few years.

Without having all the facts, such as the present water system is bad and we have a choice of fixing it or everyone moving out of town.

There are some communities which have working capital funds, or accounts set aside for multi-year financing of major purchasing/projects that are good and avoid some debt. They should be getting the praises for good planning and avoiding getting deeply in debt.

There may be some State or Federal "grants" that may be involed in some of the debt decisions also.


totally annoying format.

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