State Public Finance Laws Database
Most states have enacted laws regulating how public entities may and may not use bond dollars and/or other public debt in connection with private property. For the most part, these rules had their genesis in efforts to ensure against corruption, fraud, and misuse of public funds. However, they are also interpreted as limiting the ability of cities, towns, and utilities to access bond dollars for projects on private property even when those projects advance important public interests.
These state laws can be flexible enough to allow greater investment in localized infrastructure. To meet their state public finance statutory requirements, generally local governments must demonstrate that localized infrastructure improves and/or benefits the utility system. For example, the First Class City Revenue Bond Act and the General Water and Wastewater Revenue Bond Ordinance of 1989 govern Philadelphia’s issuance of municipal bonds and provide that the City has authority to issue revenue bonds for the purpose of financing “projects” relating to the water “system.” These rules do not prohibit the City from issuing revenue bonds to pay. The City would instead need to ensure that the financed LWI projects meet the statutory definitions of “projects” and “system.”
Use the database below to explore your state’s public finance statutes and find a summary of how these state laws might be flexible enough to allow debt financing of distributed infrastructure.