Irvine Boasts Greatest Tax Surplus in America

Helena Hu, Centerspread Editor

For the third year in a row, Irvine has claimed the title of the financially healthiest city in America, with a “taxpayer surplus” of $4,400 per person, according to the OC Register. Although a decline from last year’s surplus of $5,200, Irvine is one of only 12 cities with extra funds; major cities in California are battling a “taxpayer burden”— what each taxpayer would have to pay in order to eliminate a city’s debt, but Irvine has a taxpayer surplus, meaning that available assets outweigh expenditures.

Much of Irvine Unified School District’s funding is provided by donations, as IUSD funding is less than the state average by $2,000 per student, according to the 2017-18 statewide apportionment for Unified School Districts.

“We happen to do a good job with low funding because of many things: we have great teachers, we have great staff, and we have a lot of instructional assistants. And everyone in our classified system really works for the betterment of our students. We have great students and teachers,”  board president Lauren Brooks said

With donations to the district, the city’s budget team is able to focus more funds towards its priority of a secure community; 80 million dollars are budgeted towards public safety according to the official 2018-19 city budget. However, IUSD receives 10.2 million dollars from the city, allowing for the district to work towards its goal of ensuring students meet current standards, according to the Local Control and Accountability Plan for 2014-19.

“The District receives donations from our partner organizations including The Irvine Public Schools Foundation and The City of Irvine. IPSF donations help support the music program, elementary resource counselors, nurses, high school athletic trainers and class size support. City of Irvine donations help support health clerks, counselors at middle/high schools, PE paraprofessionals and a second utility crew to support restroom hygiene,” assistant superintendent of business services John Fogarty said.

Although public funding to the district is so low, IUSD is still able to run because of these donations. The continuation of these donations allow for the city to focus funds to other important causes and to maintain its financial strength.

“Responsible fiscal management is one of the top priorities for my colleagues and me. A fiscally strong city defines a city on the move. And that is Irvine,” Mayor Donald P. Wagner said in response to Truth in Accounting’s report of America’s largest 75 cities, according to the City of Irvine.