Cost Accounting in Local Government

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 […]

Costing Recreation Services

As part of a Cost of Services Study we are usually asked to provide the full cost of Recreation services and then make recommendations to adjust these fees.  But, as there is a direct connection between the costs and the resulting fees for most other departments in a city, identifying the full costs of Recreation […]

The Proposition 13 con job

Forty years ago, in 1978, California voters passed Proposition 13 by an overwhelming margin. This proposition significantly changed California public finance by reducing property taxes. The rationale for its passage was that it saved people, especially those on fixed income, from losing their homes due to large increases in property taxes. Howard Jarvis, the author […]

Comprehensive or Targeted Fee Study

There are two different approaches to doing a Fee Study.  You can either do a comprehensive study that involves the entire organization or do a more targeted approach that just reviews departments with a large amount of fee revenues.  There are pros and cons to each approach. Comprehensive Fee Study The main benefit of this […]

Thirty Years of Impact Fee Experience

This last January 16th I watched with no small amount of pride while the Chino City Council adopted an updated set of development impact fees. It shouldn’t have been remarkable as I see such successful DIF adoptions seven or eight times a year.  What was remarkable was that the Chino City Council had done the […]

Cost Studies

The same person who is credited with inventing accounting, Luca Pacioli, an Italian mathematician from the 15th century, is also credited with inventing cost accounting. Where “regular” accounting is important for financial statements, cost accounting is essential for determining what products cost and how they should be priced. In large private sector companies, there are […]

Government as a Business

Is the idea of Government operating like a business past its time?

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