Guide to Local Government Finance in California

By Michael Coleman , Kenneth Hampian , Michael Multari and Bill Statler

  • Item# FPL
  • ISBN: 978-1-938166-00-6
  • Copyright (c) 2012
  • Paperback
  • 336 pp.
  • Price: $90.00
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Guide to Local Government Finance - this title is now sold out of the current print edition, but it is still available in e-book. CLICK HERE

The Guide to Local Government Finance in California provides a unique look at local government finance that covers not only the vital fundamentals – like budgeting, accounting, and investing – but also lesser known yet equally powerful forces that affect the ability of cities, counties, and special districts to deliver essential services. Focusing on the unique and complex nature of finance in California, the Guide to Local Government Finance in California answers questions such as:

  • What are the best practices in budgeting?

  • How do developers and cities size up the economics of potential projects?

  • What are the pressures that often push government costs beyond the annual inflation rate?

  • Why do labor force costs consume such a big piece of budget pie?

  • What is the outlook for reform in California and what principles should guide reform?

Appendices offer a step-by-step process for preparing, reviewing, and adopting a city budget and tips for presenting financial information in meaningful ways.

The Guide to Local Government Finance in California is an essential resource for public agency managers and other staff, including planners and policy analysts, as well as appointed and elected public officials, teachers, students, and citizens at large who want to understand and improve California’s complex system of local government finance.



In addition to the information provided below you may also click on the following:

2013 Addendum to Guide to Local Government Finance in California

Read the Chapters At-A-Glance, Detailed Table of Contents, and Preface

See the front cover

See the back cover


Michael Coleman is an experienced city fiscal officer and a leading expert on California local government revenues, spending, and financing.  He is the creator of California Local Government Finance Almanac, an online resource of data, analyses, and articles on California municipal finance and budgeting.  He is the principal fiscal policy advisor both to the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers and, for over 15 years, to the League of California Cities.  Coleman is a popular presenter at graduate schools and conferences, and is the author of numerous articles and references on the topic. Coleman received an MPA from the University of Southern California.

During his 35-year public sector career, Ken Hampian served at the county, federal, and city levels of government, including 20 years in San Luis Obispo where he retired as city manager in 2010. Honors have included the League of California Cities John S. Nail Award and selection to the prestigious Presidential Management Internship Program. In the summer of 2011, Hampian served without compensation as the interim city manager of beleaguered Bell, California, during a time of dire need. His service there has been recognized by a variety of professional associations. Today Hampian teaches, trains, writes, and consults.

Michael Multari was the community development director in Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo before co-founding Crawford, Multari & Clark Associates (CMCA), a consulting practice that provided planning and fiscal assistance to public agencies throughout California. Since leaving CMCA in 2000, he has served as the executive director of the non-profit Morro Bay National Estuary Program and has worked on various campus planning projects at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He received an MPA from Princeton University and has been a member of the adjunct faculty in the City and Regional Planning Department at Cal Poly for over 20 years.

Bill Statler served as the Director of Finance & Information Technology for the City of San Luis Obispo for 22 years and for 10 years as finance officer for the City of Simi Valley before that. Under his guidance, San Luis Obispo received national recognition for excellence in its financial planning, budgeting, reporting, and management systems. He has played a large leadership role in the municipal finance profession, including serving on the Board of Directors of the League of California Cities, President of the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers (CSMFO) and California Committee on Municipal Accounting. In 2011, Statler was awarded the CSMFO’s Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding contributions to the municipal finance profession. Statler continues to be deeply involved in the field as a consultant, trainer, and author.

Praise for:

"For anyone who hasn't yet picked up the new book "Guide to Local Government Finance in California," I highly recommend it. It is chock full of valuable information for new and seasoned city officials alike. The authors... are some of the most respected professionals in the field. Their publication provides understanding, guidance and critical thinking to one of the most difficult areas of local government. This guide will no doubt be an essential part of the CCMF tool kit as we continue to support and encourage excellence in local government"

President’s Message from Wade McKinney in the California City Management Foundation newsletter

"The authors of the Guide to Local Government Finance in California sought to create a book for ‘those who are interested in better understanding and navigating the complexity of California local public finance,’ and their approach makes the volume accessible to a wide range of readers. The book provides a thorough, basic overview, a complete guide that provides plenty of detail. Multari, Coleman, Hampian, and Statler bring an expository tone to many of the most zippy buzz words and processes, and they do so without missing the operative details that make such a book useful for public finance officers...

“Guide to Local Government Finance in California provides a great deal of information that will be especially helpful to readers who are new to public finance or just looking for primer to fill in areas they might not have as much experience with. It can also serve as an excellent reference for those wishing to find quick answers to specific questions..."

Review excerpts from Government Finance Officers Association newsletter

"This is the most comprehensive treatment of local government finance in any state that I have ever seen. The authors have brought their many decades of professional experience to this important undertaking, and the end product is nothing short of impressive. This guide will prove useful to elected and appointed local government officials, business leaders, reporters, students, faculty, and others who are struggling to understand the highly complex world of local government finance in California. It also underscores exactly why local government managers and fiscal officers play such a critical role in advancing and protecting the public interest in a state as diverse and challenging as California."

Chris McKenzie
Executive Director, League of California Cities

"Over the course of my 27 years as a city manager, I would have loved to have had a resource like the Guide to Local Government Finance in California to provide to my council members and staff. It uniquely covers all of the ground that encompasses the complexities of local government finance in California –and in an easy-to-read way. It’s a great resource for elected officials and staff."

Kevin Duggan
Western Regional Director, International City and County Management Association

"For local elected officials, there has been no place to look for a detailed analysis, and careful evaluation, of local finances. There is now. Guide to Local Government Finance in California offers the best information on California local finances that I have read. It both answers specific finance questions and presents a larger perspective on the financial tensions and differences between local governments and the State."

Ronald O. Loveridge
Mayor of Riverside and Political Science Professor at University of California, Riverside
Past President, League of California Cities and National League of Cities

"The authors have written a book that should be read by every newly elected council member and anyone who will find themselves engaged in the topic. The book, given the subject matter, is surprisingly readable and is a must read if you want to understand local government finance in the Golden State."

Mike Kasperzak,
Mayor of Mountain View
President, League of California Cities, 2012

"Guide to Local Government Finance in California has been written by four of the state's most respected leaders and authorities in the local government finance. It’s an essential, “reader-friendly” reference for elected officials, staff, advisory body members, teachers, students – and any one else who is interested in understanding the deeper financial story of our cities, counties and special districts."

Mary Bradley, retired Finance Director, Sunnyvale
Past President, California Society of Municipal Finance Officers