Masters Thesis

A Comparison of the fiscal strategies and outlooks of the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster

In the field of public policy it is important for cities to make choices that provide safety and security for its citizens; to give them a place to live that offers housing, employment and amenities to enjoy. Cities should be fiscally responsible by maintaining balanced budgets with enough financial reserve to see themselves and their residents through the tough times. Palmdale has cut back on services to their residents and has been through several rounds of layoffs in addition to freezing positions. This doesn’t benefit the residents of Palmdale or its employees. However, since the recession began in 2007 the city of Lancaster has, relatively speaking, appeared to thrive. The city recently completed renovation of their main boulevard and is attracting new business to the area. While they have had to freeze positions, there have been no layoffs. With both cities facing similar business, residential and political situations, it appears that differences in fiscal soundness between Lancaster and Palmdale must lie in differing policy decisions made by each city. This paper will look closely at the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) of Palmdale and Lancaster to see if there are any differences between the two cities that will help to explain the difference in outcomes. This paper focuses on the CAFR’s because they are the audited reports and show the actual monies earned and spent. The purpose of this study is to analyze the key decisions and policies of these two cities and determine what policies or decisions made the key difference between the outcomes of the two cities. This may serve as a general frame for assessing fiscal strategies and outlooks of these and other cities.


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