GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Here’s some encouragement for Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and City Council member Justin Outling, the man who wants her job at the city election on July 27: Their city is ranked among the 30 best-run cities in the nation and No. 3 in North Carolina.

Nancy Vaughan and Justin Outling (Photos submitted by candidates)
Nancy Vaughan and Justin Outling (Photos submitted by candidates)

That’s the finding of a new report from WalletHub, the financial advice site that collects and analyzes data to help us learn more about our habits, our environments and society in general.

Nampa, Idaho – and if you don’t know Nampa, stay tuned – was ranked the best-run among the 150 cities WalletHub evaluated. At the bottom of the list? You don’t need to be a “Jeopardy!” contestant to know that it’s Washington, D.C. (which is managed by Congress, you know).

Greensboro ranked No. 27, and it was surpassed in the state only by Durham (No. 10) and Raleigh (No. 13). Charlotte checked in at No. 112, which might be concerning to Greensboro City Manager Taiwo Jaiyeoba, who left a job there. Winston-Salem wasn’t on the list.

Source: WalletHub

Here’s how WalletHub made these comparisons: The 150 most- populated cities were analyzed in six key categories: 1) financial stability, 2) education, 3) health, 4) safety, 5) economy and 6) infrastructure & pollution. There were 38 metrics boiled down on 100-point scales.

There also was an overall “Quality of City Services” score for each city based on its weighted average across all the metrics. Raleigh ranked No. 13 on that list (Huntington, California, was No. 1), and Charlotte was No. 41, Durham was No. 51, and Greensboro was No. 71 (largely because it fared badly in the health, economy and infrastructure and pollution metrics).

What it takes to succeed

Terry L. Clower, chair of Public Policy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, cites five factors to determine how well-run a city is:

  • Is the city financially sound?
  • Can city protective services respond to citizen needs, in all neighborhoods?
  • Is the city able to respond effectively to unplanned events (natural and human-induced disasters)?
  • Is there a comprehensive plan that is in place and actually guides decisions?
  • Does the economic development strategy provide economic opportunity for all citizens?

About Nampa

After Nampa at the top of WalletHub’s list is its neighbor, Boise, followed by Fort Wayne, Indiana; Nashua, New Hampshire; and Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky.

Just above DC? Nos. 145-149 were Detroit, Cleveland, Chattanooga, New York and San Francisco.

Terry L. Clower, George Mason University (WALLETHUB)

But more about Nampa. This is a city of just more than 100,000 (up about 25% since 2010) that is about 20 miles due west of Boise, near the Snake River and the Oregon state line. It is considered part of the metro market.

Nampa evolved from the western expansion of the railroad system in the late 1800s. WalletHub ranked it No. 1 in total budget per capita.

Clower said that, to be successful, cities must have “the amenities and characteristics of being great places to live. If a city cannot attract and retain talented workers, then its economic competitiveness will suffer.” He said that requires a tax structure that can pay for these amenities, protective services and core infrastructure (roads, water, wastewater), but not be overly burdensome on working families.” Cities also need clear plans and policies.

“Finally, and perhaps the toughest,” he said, “city leaders must rise above political theater and address issues of equity and opportunity in the way they govern and manage public resources and being a reason for us to come together on common goals while respecting differences.”