10 years later: What Local Governments Learned from the Great Recession

By Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark, ICMA-CM, AICP, CEcD

The official dates of the Great Recession, from December 2007 to June 2009, mean that June 2019 signals the “supposed” ten-year aftermath to which we can apply hindsight. For local governments, the timeline of the downturn proved prolonged for employees and postponed for their governments. Employees first felt the impact at home – literally—as many experienced dramatic losses in home values and in personal investments.

Then, over the next two years the plummeting of property values – in some instances as much as 70 percent—translated into the loss of their employer’s primary source of revenue (property taxes) necessitating cuts and adjustments creating a “double jeopardy” of sorts.

Remembering the Great Recession’s specific impacts to and responses by local government will better prepare communities to ride out future downturns. Below are some lessons learned, and the steps taken to help insulate local government from future financial storms. Read more