Municipal Finance

Overview

Municipal Finance

Article Local Works By Jeff Kraus

San Bernardino is breaking cycles of violence with community partnerships and flexible funding

As is the case in many cities, gang connections go back decades in San Bernardino, spanning generations of family members. To disrupt the cycle, the city partnered with community-based organizations to create a program that aims to prevent gang gun violence and de-escalate tensions through personal interactions with gang members and at-risk youth in ways that law enforcement cannot.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Cindy Silva

Going forward, municipal finance will require new levels of leadership resilience

Local leaders are astutely aware that the pandemic is not over and that our local communities continue to reel from its public health and fiscal impacts. Despite this uncertainty, city leaders continue to press forward as we chart a path to recovery. And prudent financial decision-making will be critical in our recovery efforts.  

Article Special to Cal Cities By Frank V. Zerunyan

The value of local public service

As we reflect on the many projects made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act this month, it is important to consider that which has incalculable value: public service. Put simply, local government is where the rubber meets the road and policy becomes action. This article by Frank V. Zerunyan, Mayor of Rolling Hills Estates and Professor at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, reflects on the unique, vital role that city officials play in keeping our democracy and communities healthy. 

Article Solutions for Cities By Kevin Knopf

Employee benefits: An underutilized recruitment tool

How can cities retain their current workforce and attract new employees when battling against the attraction of a work-from-home model? The answer is total compensation.

Article Solutions for Cities By Lisa Holmes

New vehicles for the same old budget … or less

With age taking its toll on existing vehicle fleets, many local government agencies are learning how to not only improve the lifecycle of their vehicles but reduce their total cost of ownership with no impact on their current budget.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Katie Galvin-Šurbatović

How Whittier kept local businesses afloat with targeted funding, relief, and business-friendly policies

Like most communities, the pandemic challenged Whittier’s economy across industries. In the early days of the pandemic, a once buzzing and vivacious Whittier became a shadow of its former self. Small businesses were forced to close their doors and furlough or lay off employees. Amidst considerable uncertainty, the city acted swiftly to implement critical solutions and assist the business community in a variety of effective, innovative ways.

Article Features By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Transformative and desperately needed: The American Rescue Plan Act one year later

In March 2021, cities across the nation breathed a sigh of relief as an economic package that included $65 billion for municipalities finally made its way through Congress and was signed into law. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provided badly needed direct and flexible funds to cash-strapped cities on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020.

CalPERS headquarters
Article Legal Notes By Steven M. Berliner

New state law increases pension-related costs for cities: How municipalities can mitigate the impact

A new law went into effect at the beginning of this year that creates new liabilities for public agencies when reporting compensation, shifting exposure for reporting mistakes from retirees almost exclusively to the employer. 

A key path to growing local revenue and sustaining local economies is investing in economic development to ensure that businesses are successful.
Article Features By Gurbax Sahota

The pandemic crushed local economies; recovery depends on how cities navigate emerging economic development opportunities

While communities across California and the country excitedly await the disbursement of badly needed relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and potential assistance from the president’s American Jobs Plan, one question is being asked over and over again — how do we make the most of these precious one-time investments?

City of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg delivers speech about #ALLINSAC effort.
Article Local Works by Lisa Yarbrough

Sacramento’s Measure U helps maintain critical services and advance equity during pandemic

The City of Sacramento is one of many California cities to put a general sales tax measure on the  ballot to bring in much-needed revenue for local projects. Voter approval to renew or raise local sales tax has given some cities a sustained source of revenue to maintain critical services, invest in local infrastructure, and create additional amenities for the community.

Steve Rogers, Yountville City Manager, Eric Figueroa, Martinez City Manager, and Kim Summers, Murrieta City Manager
Article Features by Jill Oviatt

A fiscal year for the books
Managing city budgets as a deadly pandemic ravages livelihoods and revenues

California cities have been on the front lines for nearly a year taking action to protect their residents and businesses and maintain the delivery of essential city services, despite unplanned expenses and revenue shortfalls brought about by the pandemic. Three California city managers reflect on the past year and how on earth one manages a city budget with so much uncertainty, and so little support from the state and federal governments.

Article Features by Lloyd de Llamas

Adding to the challenge – the increasingly volatile sales tax

The coronavirus recession has eroded city budgets in many ways, leaving many tax revenue streams damaged and lasting impacts on cities that will continue to cut deep in the fiscal year ahead. As local governments grapple with the revenue loss and spending increases associated with the pandemic, it’s important to review the trends and forecasts of the revenue streams upon which a city most heavily relies and adjust accordingly. 

Article President's Message by Cheryl Viegas Walker

Cal Cities strategic priorities set a course for 2021

In December 2020, city leaders who serve in leadership positions for the League of California Cities divisions, departments, policy committees, and diversity caucuses convened virtually for the annual League Leaders program, to chart the organization’s priorities for 2021. Developing member-driven and -informed strategic advocacy priorities is key to the effectiveness of Cal Cities’ advocacy efforts on behalf of cities.

Article by Rachael Sanders and Charlie Francis

Is Your City Really Prepared for Rising Pension Costs?

By Rachael Sanders and Charlie Francis Revenues are not keeping pace with pension expenses. Learn how your city can prepare for ongoing economic uncertainty.

Article Features by Michael G. Colantuono

What You Need to Know About Municipal Finance
Recent Major Developments in the Law

California’s appellate courts have delivered three very significant decisions involving municipal revenues.

Article Web Exclusive by Tim Cook

Five Ways Cities Can Keep Bond-Financing Obligations Painless

Tim Cook is manager of corporate trust national sales for UMB Bank and can be reached at Timothy.Cook@umb.com.


Your city’s revenue bond offering was successful, the proceeds are with your trustee, and now it’s time to rev up the engines and launch your infrastructure project or new program. Here are five practical tips to ensure smooth sailing in your interactions with your trustee.

Article Executive Director's Message by Carolyn Coleman

A New Day: How the League Has Adapted to COVID-19

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the League remains a strong organization that continues providing the resources cities need to make informed decisions for their communities

Article Features by Michael More

Money-Saving Tips for Your City’s Supplemental Defined Benefit Plan

A city can save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by reducing fees on these legacy plans.

Article Legal Notes by Michael Fehner

In California, Some Insurance Policies Age Like Fine Wine

It is a common misconception that old insurance policies are good only for museums and archival research; some old policies are capable of providing substantial coverage even today.

Article Local Works

Affordable Housing: More Than a Mandate in San Marcos
How San Marcos Leveraged Affordable Housing for Smart Growth

In an area that lacked basic infrastructure, two mixed-use affordable housing developments brought improvements including new streets, drainage, and lighting. A complex mix of federal, state, and city funding, matched with private-sector loans, covered the costs.