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Austin, Phoenix Judged Best Cities

January 31, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ With robust finances and well-trained public work forces, Austin, Texas, and Phoenix are the best-managed major American cities, according to an analysis by Syracuse University.

The study rated the municipal governments of the nation’s 35 largest cities in terms of revenues, assigning grades from A to F on five management criteria: finances, human resources, capital, information technology and results.

Phoenix was the only one with an A or A- in all five categories. Austin finished with an A- average because of a B grade on its use of information technology.

Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Virginia Beach, Va., averaged B+. New York, Philadelphia, Honolulu, Milwaukee, San Diego, San Antonio, Seattle and Long Beach, Calif., all had Bs.

A common factor in cities that scored well was strong leadership, said Patricia W. Ingraham, director of the Government Performance Project at Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The project was financed by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

``Where there is a strong mayor, there is a well-run city, which attracts residents and visitors,″ Ingraham said. ``Contrary to what many of us think, the days of mediocre city management are coming to an end.″

She said the most improved cities are those that were in the worst shape five to eight years ago _ Detroit, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C.

Detroit, for example, has earned nine upgrades from bond rating agencies. Washington has eliminated its debt, and Philadelphia is tracking its revenues and expenditures better after both cities flirted with bankruptcy, the report said.

New York, the first major city to use technology for organizing crime-fighting efforts, was praised for establishing a World Wide Web site that allows it citizens to apply for licenses and permits through the Internet.

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