Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.
Some of the factors that made Stockton the largest bankrupt city in American history.
Today, Stockton, California, announced that it will file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. It's the largest city to go bankrupt in U.S. history. Many factors played into the economic downfall of this city of 292,000, including the boom and bust of the housing market, bad bets on bond sales, ballooning pensions and expensive downtown revitalization projects. These are the numbers that tell the story of Stockton's bankruptcy:
$125 million – value of pension obligation bonds sold in 2007
$100 million – value of those bonds today
$6 million – annual interest the city has to pay on those bonds
$248 million – expected total cost to the city of those bonds
$145 million – amount of a bond-funded downtown revitalization plan launched in the early 2000s, which including a $22 million, 5,000-seat baseball stadium, a $68 million, 12,000-seat sports and concert arena, a hotel, a parking garage and a marina.
$35 million – amount spent to buy an 8-story building to house a new City Hall
$197,000 – amount of payment on the building the city skipped, resulting in its repossession by the bank in late May
$17 million – amount city pays for retiree health care annually
$90 million – amount cut from the city budget over the last three years
25 percent – resulting reduction in the city's police force
30 percent – resulting reduction in the city's fire department
43 percent – resulting reduction in the city staff
$700 million – overall debt facing the city
$521 million – city budget for fiscal year beginning July 1
$155 million – general fund budget
$26 million – amount of deficit the city's general fund is facing
18 – amount of lenders the city was unable to negotiate a deal with
1 – Stockton's place on a list of the largest U.S. cities to go bankrupt
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