Report: Majority of cities say insufficient funding delays infrastructure investment

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According to the National League of Cities (NLC), 91 percent of cities surveyed said infrastructure funding is a top priority for their municipalities.

The NLC surveyed nearly 600 leaders in cities, towns, and municipalities between March and April 2021 and asked them to identify factors impacting their infrastructure decision-making. Of the respondents, 91 percent said insufficient funding, while 56 percent said lack of pre-development funds. Almost a third (31 percent) said essential services were a top factor, while 27 percent said hiring skilled workers was their top factor.

Local leaders also identified the need for making infrastructure decisions through an equity lens, with nearly 20 percent saying equity is a top factor in their decision-making.

According to the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, while estimates put a price tag of $660 billion on local infrastructure needs, the survey indicates that infrastructure demands far exceed city resources.

“Local governments have led the way on infrastructure for decades. The latest data and stories from America’s cities, towns, and villages highlight the incredibly urgent need for support and partnership from the federal government to pass comprehensive infrastructure legislation,” said Kathy Maness, President, National League of Cities and Councilmember, Lexington, South Carolina. “It is well beyond time to rebuild our nation’s roads, water systems, broadband, and workforce. Our communities can’t keep doing it alone.”

The new survey data is from NLC’s annual State of the Cities report, scheduled to be released in June.

“The best time to invest in infrastructure was years ago. The second-best time is right now. The needs of America’s communities, families, and workers are simply not being met by the current level of funding and support from the federal government on this critical issue,” said Vince Williams, first vice president of the National League of Cities and mayor of Union City, Ga. “Mobility and modern infrastructure should be considered a civil right in our nation. Let’s do the right thing and work together to invest in a brighter future for all.”