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How stable are the finances of Valley cities? It depends.

Fully escaped from the grip of the Great Recession, it would be hard to argue that, as the decade closes, most Valley cities have reached some level of financial stability.

Or have they?

New data from California’s State Auditor breaks down nearly every California cities on their financial stability. The results, for some cities, aren’t pretty.

No matter the size of the municipality California the crushing burden of exorbitant pension obligations owed to civil servants are serving as an anchor to city finances.

“Right now, we’re in strong economic times but everyone is expecting that recession to hit,” Howle told CALMatters. “So hopefully this information will trigger discussions and decision-making that better prepares cities to be able to respond without cutting services.”

Chief among concerns for State Auditor Elaine Howle was the city of Atwater, which was ranked the second-most-financially-strapped in the state. The State Auditor noted that Atwater has run long-term deficits and seen heavy turnover of city management.

The city of Lindsay, a small farming town in southeastern Tulare County, ranked the fifth riskiest city in California by the State Auditor with high debt burden and low liquidity.

Among the three most populous cities in the Valley – Modesto, Bakersfield, and Fresno – Fresno ranked as being in the safest overall position, while Modesto was among the riskiest.

See how Valley cities rank in financial risk

CityOverall Risk Statewide Rank
Atwater2
Lindsay4
Dinuba34
Modesto42
Exeter54
San Joaquin72
Parlier78
Ceres99
Hanford106
Bakersfield111
Clovis120
Turlock127
Reedley134
Fresno142
Mendota146
Selma173
Woodlake178
Merced179
Chowchilla191
Corcoran194
Madera213
Sanger219
Tulare235
McFarland241
Firebaugh284
Livingston286
Fowler290
Porterville298
Orange Cove331
Delano339
Visalia356
Farmersville388
Kingsburg428
Kerman430
Lemoore431
Shafter435
Wasco462
Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.