Cost Accounting in Local Government

Is it bad to show a profit?

We all know that government is not allowed to make a profit on the services that it provides.  While there are exceptions with the rental or use of a city asset, such as a marina, golf course, or meeting rooms, this is generally true.  Article XIIIB, Section 8(c) of the State constitution states that: Proceeds […]

A Tribute to Doug Ayres – Part I

Have you heard of Doug Ayres? If you are old enough, you might have worked for him or taken a class from him. Or, like me, you might have had an experience where he was trying to sell his consulting services to your city. My first experience was the latter. I was Controller for the […]

Do Development Fees Affect Home Sales?

At about every other Council or town-hall meeting I attend there is the question about whether development fees (planning fees, permit fees and impact fees) affect housing sales. More specifically, I am asked if the suggested fee increases deter housing sales and economic growth within that community. At the dais, I have little time to […]

Determining Development Impact Fee Land-Use Categories

The land-use database inventory is the spine of any Development Impact Fee (henceforth DIF) calculation effort.  It is a data table that identifies where in the “General Plan build-out” process your agency is at this point in time.  General Plan build-out is that theoretical point in time when a public planning agency has, for the […]

Credit Card Processing Fees

Since there is a lot of interest in credit card processing and convenience fees recently, I thought this would be a great time to write an article and try to shed some light on what you are allowed to charge.  Well, it turns out that there is what the law says and there is what […]

Framing the Case for Fees

As the typical reader of the RCS blog articles, you are a technically skilled government finance professional and can make a strong financial or accounting argument to support your professional recommendations. When you have a thoughtful and technically literate audience, you will win your case.  Sadly, the longer I’ve worked, the more I’ve noticed a […]

Services Limited by State Laws

While performing a fee update and going through the hundreds of different fees and fines which a city may have, we noticed some fees exceeding what is currently set by State laws. This may be due to changes in State law, but more commonly, it’s because cities update all fees using a Consumer Price Index […]

Circulation Infrastructure Nexus

In my early years of calculating development impact fees (henceforth DIFs) I had to experiment with different nexus factors for distributing the costs of the various infrastructures.  Some of the earlier ones back in the early 90’s were a little rudimentary but were improved after countless hours on the internet.  Over the next year I […]

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