Local Government Publications

To browse all LAO publications, visit our Publications page.



Local Government Bankruptcy in California: Questions and Answers

August 7, 2012 - Recently, three California municipalities filed for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code: Stockton, San Bernardino, and Mammoth Lakes. These filings—occurring just months after the City of Vallejo completed its three year Chapter 9 process—have raised questions about the use of Chapter 9 in California. In this report, we answer some of the common questions about the Chapter 9 process for California local governments such as: which local governments are allowed to file for bankruptcy protections and under what circumstances, what are the major steps of the bankruptcy process, and what types of obligations can be changed or eliminated through bankruptcy.


Property Tax Agents at the Local Level in California: An Overview

June 20, 2012 - Presented to Revenue and Taxation Committee, Hon. Henry T. Perea, Chair and Assebmly Local Government Committee, Hon. Cameron Smyth, Chair


Non-Education Mandates and the 2012-13 State Budget

March 13, 2012 - Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration, Hon. Joan Buchanan, Chair


The 2012-13 Budget: Unwinding Redevelopment

February 17, 2012 - On February 1, 2012, all redevelopment agencies in California were dissolved and the process for unwinding their financial affairs began. Given the scope of these agencies' funds, assets, and financial obligations, the unwinding process will take time. This report reviews the history of RDAs, the events that led to their dissolution, and the process communities are using to resolve their financial obligations. The report recommends the Legislature amend the redevelopment dissolution legislation to address timing issues, clarify the treatment of pass–through payments, and address key concerns of redevelopment bond investors.


Statement of Economic Interests Electronic Filing Pilot Program

January 27, 2012 - As part of legislation authorizing seven local governments to participate in a pilot program regarding electronic filing of Statements of Economic Interests forms, the Legislature requested our office to evaluate the pilot program. This report presents our findings.


Letter to Assembly Member Dickinson Regarding Small Special Districts and Local Agency Formation Commissions

January 5, 2012 - Letter to Assembly Member Dickinson regarding the 1) efficiency of small special districts, 2) accountability of small special districts, and 3) effectiveness of Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCOs).


Letter to Senator de Leon Commenting on Information Regarding Proposed Farmers Field Football Stadium

August 26, 2011 - This letter reviews a memorandum of understanding between Anschutz Entertainment Group and the City of Los Angeles regarding the financing of a football stadium and new convention hall, as well as two economic analyses of the proposed project.


2011 Realignment: Addressing Issues to Promote Its Long-Term Success

August 19, 2011 - As part of the 2011-12 budget plan, the Legislature enacted a major shift—or “realignment”—of state program responsibilities and revenues to local governments. In total, the realignment plan provides $6.3 billion to local governments to fund various criminal justice, mental health, and social services programs in 2011-12, and ongoing funds for these programs annually thereafter. We recommend the Legislature address a few pressing implementation issues before this legislative session ends. We also identify a series of more extensive issues that we recommend the Legislature address in early 2012, such as developing local funding formulas with an eye towards the long term, promoting local accountability, and simplifying the plan’s extensive network of accounts and subaccounts.


Analysis of Newly Identified Mandates

June 2, 2011 - Pursuant to Chapter 1124, Statutes of 2002 (AB 3000, Committee on Budget).


The Role of the State in Delivering Improved Outcomes Through Realignment

March 30, 2011 - Presented to Senate Governance and Finance Committee, Hon. Lois Wolk, Chair


Open Meeting Act Mandate

February 24, 2011 - Presented to the Conference Committee on the Budget


Letter to Mr. John Shirey, California Redevelopment Association

February 16, 2011 - In our report The 2011-12 Budget: Should California End Redevelopment Agencies? (http://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Detail/2440), we analyzed the California Redevelopment Association’s study regarding the economic effects of redevelopment. We concluded that this study significantly overstated the number of jobs resulting from redevelopment. After publication, the researchers explained to us why they thought two of our three reasons were partly incorrect. The purpose of this letter is to clarify the extent to which we agree and disagree with their observations. While we appreciate the additional information on this study, the information provided does not change our criticisms of the study or our finding that it vastly overstates the employment effects of redevelopment.


An Overview of the Governor's Realignment Proposal

February 14, 2011 - Presented to Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 6 on Budget Oversight and Program Evaluation


Webcast: Public Retirement Benefits, Options for the Future

February 10, 2011 - In this 15-minute video, LAO State Finance Director Jason Sisney describes why public employee retirement costs have risen substantially in recent years for California governments and the Legislature's options for creating new types of retirement benefits for future state and local employees. At the same time, as Sisney discusses, the Legislature may have to identify new funding soon to address substantial unfunded liabilities in the teachers' and University of California retirement systems, among others.


The 2011-12 Budget: Should California End Redevelopment Agencies?

February 8, 2011 - California’s expansive use of redevelopment has engendered significant controversy. Program advocates contend that it is a much needed tool to promote economic development in blighted areas. Program critics counter that it diverts property tax revenues from core government services and increases state education costs. The Governor’s budget includes a plan for dissolving redevelopment agencies and distributing their funds (above the amounts necessary to pay outstanding debt) to other local agencies. We find that the administration’s proposal has merit, but suggest recognizing all the redevelopment revenues as property taxes.

Note: In a letter dated February 16th, 2011 we responded to questions regarding our analysis of the California Redevelopment Association’s study of the economic effects of redevelopment included in this report.

Local Government Staff

Ann Hollingshead
(916) 319-8305
State Budget and Federal Funding
Lourdes Morales
(916) 319-8320
Local Government, Housing, and Homelessness
Nick Schroeder
(916) 319-8314
Public Employment, CalPERS, and Elections
Angela Short
(916) 319-8309
Teachers' Retirement Policy/ Child Welfare/ Community Care Licensing
Seth Kerstein
(916) 319-8365
Sales and Excise Taxes and Demographics