It’s that time of year again! In past years, Govistics has brought you public finance data based on a variety of America’s favorite Thanksgiving Day motifs, ranging from the main course to the first voyage of the pilgrims. This year, we pay homage to a time-tested turkey-day staple: football.

Beginning in 1934, the Detroit Lions have hosted a game every year on Thanksgiving and were joined in this tradition by the Dallas Cowboys in 1966.  Earlier this year, we profiled Detroit’s descent into bankruptcy. Adding insult to fiscal injury, Detroit has not won a Thanksgiving Day game since 2003 (Dallas last won in 2011).

Though the Cowboys have outplayed the Lions over the last decade, Detroit in 2011 outspent Dallas on a per resident basis by 41%.

 dallas spending 2

 detroit spending2

Dallas, with about 1.2 million residents, spent around $2,500 per resident in 2011. This compares to the $4,200 spent per resident in Detroit, home to just under 917,000 residents.

While it often tempting to look at municipalities side by side, varying structures and functions can make comparisons tenuous, especially among cities in different states. For example, Detroit provides residents with a rail and bus transit system, while Dallas’ residents have access only to transportation provided by a private company. Keeping in mind inherent differences between municipalities can make data analysis more meaningful.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Just type in "Plymouth" on the search bar, and the drop-down list gives you 37 municipalities named for the Pilgrims' landing spot.

Last week, we brought you a post regarding governments named after Thanksgiving’s centerpiece: the turkey. We heard about another handful of Thanksgiving “fun facts” through the U.S. Census Bureau.

There are 37 places and townships in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims. Plymouth, Minn., is the most populous, with 70,576 residents in 2010; Plymouth, Mass., had 56,468.

2007 is the most recent year for which data are made available through the U.S. Census of Governments (Govistics' data source) for municipalities of Pilgrim Township's size.

There is just one township in the United States named Pilgrim. Located in Dade County, Mo., its population was 132 in 2010.  Like their namesakes, Pilgrim residents are a mobile bunch. See above: 100% of their spending in 2007 went to transportation! We checked into it: looks like the money goes to highway/road maintenance. Their local government doesn’t have a website.

Mayflower, Arkansas, named for the famed ship that brought the Pilgrims to their landing place at Plymouth Rock.

And then there is Mayflower, Ark., population of 2,234 in 2010, where 31 percent of spending was dedicated to utilities in 2008. Back during the days of the real Mayflower, there really weren’t any government-owned-and-operated water, electric light, and power/gas supplies to speak of (that’s the U.S. Census of Governments definition of “utilities”)! There’s also a Mayflower Village, Calif., whose population was 5,515 in 2010.

It goes without saying that the journey of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims was an influential one!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. We thank YOU for reading, and we hope that we can continue to provide you with engaging dinner table discussion topics!

Happy Eating!

If you’re on the market for some seasonally-appropriate dinner table conversation fodder ahead of Thanksgiving, the Govistics team has you covered.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently pointed out to us in an email that there are fifteen places in the United States named after the main course on your Thanksgiving dinner table. Among them are 4 towns and 11 townships, the most populous of which is Turkey Creek, La., with 441 residents in 2010. This is followed by Turkey City, Texas (421 residents), Turkey Creek, Ariz. (294), and Turkey Town, N.C. (292).

Curious, we fired up the Govistics database to do some comparisons. During this process, we learned that there are three different Turkey Creek Townships in Kansas: one in Barber County, one in McPherson County, and one in Mitchell County. There are also two Turkey Creeks in Nebraska, in Franklin County and Harlan County. Interesting.

We learned that the most-populous Turkey Creek, La. “gobbles” up more of residents’ tax dollars than do the other, tinier “Turkeys.” This table shows you a comparison of total per-capita local government spending in the municipalities as of 2007, the most recent year for which comparable data were available via the U.S. Census of Governments for municipalities of this size. Turkey Creek Village spends about $2,400 per resident, while the little Turkey Creeks in Nebraska (population in Harlan County’s Turkey Creek hinges around 76 to 82 residents) spend just $24 and $53 per resident.

Per-capita revenue dollar figures tell a similar story.

The employment tables show you how many workers are employed by the municipality. The Turkey Creeks in Nebraska don’t have any employees. Turkey Town, N.C. only has one person on staff.

That person, an administrative staff member, earned a salary of just over $21,000 in 2007, according to our payroll pie chart.

When we compare payroll on a per-capita basis in all the Turkey-themed municipalities, we can see that Turkey Creek Village in Louisiana – located in Evangeline Parish – again outpaces its fellow poultry-saluting communities.

A few municipalities in Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, North Dakota, Tennessee, and North Carolina are named in honor of ducks. No chicken-themed towns or villages exist out there (yet, anyway). And there are a few communities with “bird” in their names.

But it seems, when it comes to poultry, America gives the turkey the most love.

America's favorite bird