Finance

HOAs Set Aside Funds for Major Repairs—School Districts Should, Too

HOAs Set Aside Funds for Major Repairs—School Districts Should, Too

Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) in Orange County, Calif., is considering issuing another voter-approved bond to pursue building improvements. The title of “Classroom Safety/Repair Measure” is being used in the initial phase of this exercise. And the Facilities Master Plan (FMP) is on the district’s website and invites visitors to take a prioritization survey. But...

By John Moorlach

Los Angeles County’s Cities Staying Financially Stable, With a Few Exceptions

Los Angeles County’s Cities Staying Financially Stable, With a Few Exceptions

The city of Compton wins the laggard award for Los Angeles County’s 88 cities in releasing its June 30, 2021, annual comprehensive financial report (ACFR). It was completed by its auditing firm on May 8 and presented to its city council on June 4 of this year. The customary completion date by the outside independent...

By John Moorlach

Federal Coronavirus Funding Boosted San Diego County’s City Finances

Federal Coronavirus Funding Boosted San Diego County’s City Finances

For the 12 months ending on June 30, 2022, the coronavirus lockdown by California Gov. Gavin Newsom was still in effect. His implementation of this lengthy and heavy-handed measure would be in place for another eight months. But, in March 2022, the Federal Reserve Board made the first of 11 interest rate hikes to slow...

By John Moorlach

Can City Budgets Be Tightened Up, or Should Taxpayers Pay More?

Can City Budgets Be Tightened Up, or Should Taxpayers Pay More?

The second fiscal year after the implementation of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus lockdown for San Diego County’s 18 cities saw Del Mar bounce back up in fiscal rankings (see “City of San Diego Fell Behind $191 Million in First Year of Pandemic,” May 15, 2024). The fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, also saw the...

By John Moorlach

The California State Auditor is Again Driving Without a Dashboard

The California State Auditor is Again Driving Without a Dashboard

Last spring, when I wrote “The Rise of Zombie Cities,” I thought that, by now, some of my statements would have been proven prophetic. In the article, I discussed the results of the California State Auditor’s 2022 report on the “Fiscal Health of Cities.” I also noted several negative trends affecting city finances, such as...

By Mark Moses

San Francisco finds a new way to break the bank

San Francisco finds a new way to break the bank

The City of San Francisco is reeling from rampant crime and facing a commercial real estate crash. Arguably, City policies have created both problems – the former, a result of lax law enforcement, and the latter, a consequence of the first, coupled with unfriendly business policies. Meanwhile, the City is facing a $489 million budget...

By Mark Moses

Newsom Wisely Avoids Transit Bailout in May Budget Revise

Newsom Wisely Avoids Transit Bailout in May Budget Revise

Governor Newsom’s FY 2023-24 budget update included a larger projected deficit and more balancing measures than his January budget. But, despite pressure from Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and transit agencies, the May Revise excluded emergency funding for local bus and rail systems around the state. The agencies’ proposed transit bailout was at best premature,...

By Marc Joffe

The Rise of Zombie Cities 

The Rise of Zombie Cities 

When the California State Auditor’s Office released its annual report on the “Fiscal Health of California Cities” in fall 2022, most city officials and journalists focused on the blunt financial risk rating results and the relative position of their city organization amongst the 431 cities analyzed. But there is more that we can learn from...

By Mark Moses

Sacramento’s Mismanagement of Taxpayer Dollars

Sacramento’s Mismanagement of Taxpayer Dollars

Leaders in Sacramento are grappling with the state budget this month as California faces a budget deficit of nearly $32 billion. Senate leaders claim they can address the deficit without cutting spending on state programs, but the reality is that a fiscal reckoning is long overdue. According to a survey released by the Public Policy...

By Sheridan Swanson

No, California Is Not the World’s Fourth Largest Economy

No, California Is Not the World’s Fourth Largest Economy

Boasting of his state’s robust economic growth, California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently declared that “California’s values and entrepreneurial spirit have powered this ascent to becoming the 4th biggest economy in the world.” Not so fast. California elected officials frequently cite the Golden State’s position in global economic rankings, comparing the size of the state’s economy...

By Marc Joffe

California Per Capita General Fund Spending Doubles – Where Is It Going?

California Per Capita General Fund Spending Doubles – Where Is It Going?

California’s state government is spending twice as much as it did a decade ago, and by every metric that matters to ordinary Californians, things have only gotten worse. Even without further analysis, this is an incredible fact. California’s state government, in constant dollars, is spending nearly twice as much per resident as it did a...

By Edward Ring

Rethinking Transparency and Accountability: Part 1

Rethinking Transparency and Accountability: Part 1

Virtually everyone in local government claims to champion transparency and accountability, but few attempt to define either of these terms or identify what conditions support and maintain them. Too often, municipal leaders rely on gimmicks and process to demonstrate that their government organization is meeting these laudable goals, rather than focus on building the culture...

By Mark Moses