Map of the Day: Fiscal Stress

The Commission on Local Government has published its 2022 update on the fiscal condition of Virginia localities. No surprises here — the same geographical patterns hold as in the past. The most stressed localities are uniformly cities, and the most stressed are small cities. The least stressed are counties in Northern Virginia and on the metropolitan fringe of Richmond. Two remarkable outliers, Bath and Highland counties, seem to be in great shape relatively speaking. View the report for details of your jurisdiction.

Of greatest interest is the change in revenue capacity between 2019 and 2020, the latest year covered. The biggest winner: Sussex County, with a gain of 14.5%. The biggest loser: Prince George County, with a loss of 4.o%.

The fiscal stress index ranks localities by their relative standing to the statewide average pegged at 100. It incorporates revenue capacity (how much revenue it could generate if it taxed its population at statewide average rates), revenue effort, the ratio of tax collections as a ratio to its revenue effort, and median household income. The Commonwealth uses the index to distribute state aid
to the states’ 95 counties and 38 cities.

Localities are grouped in four quartiles: high stress, above average, below average, and low. Here are the localities that changed quartiles between 2019 and 2020: