Last weekend, the New York Times published an infographic-filled article on consumer habits in 18 metros that revealed how certain regions spend more (or less) than the national average on things like men’s underwear, cigarettes, bicycles and beer. (Philadelphia forks over 160 percent more in alimony. Houston spends 338 percent more on mutton, goat and game. Seattleites open their wallets for pinball and video games 220 percent more than most Americans.)
The Times argues the data show that “in many ways, geography is consumer destiny,” so what can be gleaned from how municipal governments spend? To find out, I took a look at SmartProcure to get 2014 info on region-specific vendor invoices.
Overall, cities pay a pretty penny for fuel. Unsurprisingly, security companies and data management firms benefit from New York’s needs. Local, family-owned construction companies topped Philly’s list.
City of New York
1. Unnamed Security Vendors (names omitted)
2014 price tag: $5 billion
Payments to security vendors that involve the NYPD, Department of Investigation and the District Attorney’s office are omitted.
2. YMS Management Associates
2014 price tag: $2 billion
Local company YMS Management Associates handles accounting, operations and systems/management consulting for a number of NYC agencies as well as other corporations and nonprofits. Their website has a vintage, dot-com era feel.
3. Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) Covansys
2014 price tag: $2 billion
CSC Covansys is an IT company. In late October, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara filed a lawsuit that alleges that CSC and the City of New York have colluded in a multi-million dollar Medicaid fraud scheme. In a statement, Bharara said that both had “created computer programs that systematically, and fraudulently, altered billing data in order to get paid by Medicaid as quickly as possible and as much as possible.”
City of Los Angeles
1. SC Fuels
2014 price tag: $9.2 million
SC Fuels is the exclusive provider of unleaded gasoline for the city’s fleet of passenger vehicles.
2. Appropriations to Special Purpose Fund
2014 price tag: $6.9 million
This money goes toward various independent department costs, including trusts for the L.A. Convention & Visitors Bureau, affordable housing, stormwater pollution abatement and community development.
3. Falcon Fuels
2014 price tag: $5.6 million
Falcon supplies the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power with diesel, gasoline and biodiesel fuels.
City of Philadelphia
1. Tony DePaul and Son
2014 price tag: $34.4 million
Founded in Southeastern Pennsylvania in the 1940s, the company handles many of the city’s highway and street construction projects, like the resurfacing of 12 miles of U.S. 1 (Roosevelt Boulevard).
2. Mansfield Oil
2014 price tag: $24.1 million
Mansfield oil provides gasoline, diesel fuel and natural gas to the City of Philadelphia.
2014 price tag: $24 million
This local general contractor has done projects this year that range from the renovation of an athletic field to the construction of a new crosswalk, also along Roosevelt Boulevard.
City of San Antonio
1. RKA Petroleum Companies
2014 price tag: $49.5 million
RKA Petroleum provides the City of San Antonio with its unleaded fuel.
2. IPC USA
2014 price tag: $39.7 million
IPC provided “hospitalists,” or medical personnel who contract with hospitals managing large numbers of patients, to 14 hospitals in the San Antonio area. They’ve been named in seven, unrelated malpractice lawsuits in the area.
3. City Public Services (lighting upgrade)
2014 price tag: $14.6 million
The City of San Antonio spent $14 million on an LED Streetlight Replacement program. Despite early hiccups, including some lamps shorting out during heavy rain, supporters tout the long-term energy savings.
The Equity Factor is made possible with the support of the Surdna Foundation.
Alexis Stephens was Next City’s 2014-2015 equitable cities fellow. She’s written about housing, pop culture, global music subcultures, and more for publications like Shelterforce, Rolling Stone, SPIN, and MTV Iggy. She has a B.A. in urban studies from Barnard College and an M.S. in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania.