Austin ranks No. 13 for parks and recreation and No. 14 for education, down from top 10 rankings the previous year. However, the city saw marked improvement in the law enforcement category, up to No. 52 from a dismal No. 73 in 2015.
Houston (No. 5) and Dallas (No. 7) are the best-run cities in Texas. Three other Texas cities are in the top 20: El Paso (No. 14), San Antonio (No. 19), and Lubbock (No. 20).
In order to identify the most efficiently operated cities in America, WalletHub’s analysts compared 78 of the most populated cities across three key “Return on Investment” (ROI) categories: 1) Adjusted Education ROI, 2) Adjusted Law Enforcement ROI and 3) Parks & Recreation ROI. Our data set is listed below with the corresponding weight for each metric.
The "Adjusted Education ROI" and "Adjusted Law Enforcement ROI" metrics are based on previous studies we conducted. The methodology for each can be found through the links provided. “Parks & Recreation ROI” was calculated by dividing “Total Parkland Acreage Within City Limits” by “Total Parks & Recreation Expenditures.” Please note that “Total Parkland Acreage Within City Limits” refers to the area of parkland managed by the city.
Ideally, this analysis would account for a city’s spending efficiency on public transportation, infrastructure and health, in addition to the categories included in this report. “Parks & Recreation ROI” also would include parkland quality. However, data for these metrics were not available and therefore excluded from our analysis. Although such limitations exist, efficient spending in the key areas accounted for in this report is a strong indicator for the level of efficiency in other expenditure categories.
Sources: Data used to create these rankings were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Trust for Public Land and WalletHub research.