St. Louis City Hall
Patrick Tuohey

Not so well, according to the personal finance website WalletHub in their “2018’s Best- & Worst-Run Cities in America” article. Of the 150 U.S. cities they rated, Kansas City and St. Louis ranked 96th and 136th overall, respectively. Is this a fair rating?

This isn’t the first time WalletHub has given Missouri cities poor ratings on matters such as spending efficiency and financial health. But this year’s study was broader and included 35 metrics divided into six categories such as financial stability, education, and infrastructure & pollution. The table below shows each city with its overall ranking and the ranking in each of the six categories.

 OverallQuality of City ServicesFinanical StabilityEducationHealthSafetyEconomyInfrastructure and Pollution
Kansas City989386188713864114
St. Louis13614814613514515010337

Once these scores were set, WalletHub calculated other scores based upon them. According to their methodology:

Next, we calculated an overall “Quality of City Services” score for each city based on its weighted average across all the metrics. Finally, for each city, we divided the Quality of City Services score by the “Total Budget per Capita” (dollar amount) in order to construct a “Score per Dollar Spent” index—displayed as “Overall Rank” in the Main Findings table above—which we then used to rank-order the cities in our sample.

St. Louis also appeared in the list of “Top 5 Highest Violent Crime Rate” and was rated last in the category of “Safety.” Of the 150 cities, St. Louis was also near the bottom for Quality of City Services (148th), Financial Stability (146th), and Health (145th).

Kansas City was 138th in Safety, and the rest of its scores were also in the bottom half with the exception of Education. The ranking for Education, 18th, seems high and is dependent on school quality as determined by GreatSchools.org and graduation rates. Given the practice of social promotion, relying on graduation rates is problematic.

People often claim that cities are the engine of a state’s economy, and to the degree that is true, Missourians should be concerned. High taxes, high crime, and low educational performance are just part of the problem. St. Louis scores low in Financial Stability, Health, and Quality of Life Services also. Is it any wonder residents are fleeing the River City? St. Louisans, and indeed all Missourians, deserve better.

About the Author

Patrick Tuohey
Patrick Tuohey
Director of Municipal Policy

Patrick Tuohey is the Director of Municipal Policy at the Show-Me Institute.