Cost Accounting in Local Government

Cost of Services – Fee Studies

“This may strike many readers as odd, but most governments have no idea how much it costs to deliver the services they offer. Even if they can give you a budget figure for each service, it typically excludes indirect costs, such as administrative overhead, capital costs and employee fringe benefits…How can one even establish an appropriate subsidy if one doesn’t know the cost of a service?”

– Gaebler & Osborne, Reinventing Government
  • Cost of Services Studies

    Many refer to these studies as (Comprehensive) Fee Studies. We prefer the phrase “cost of services” as this focuses the process on identification of “costs” and leaves the choice of what to charge (i.e. “the fee”) to the political process. The costs don’t change unless staff is directed to change the processes used. The fee, however, can vary based on a number of factors such as: monies available, affected user group, and ease of fee collection.

  • Utility Rate Studies

    This helps identify the full financial cost of the utility and allocate that cost to the user groups.

  • Long-Range Financial Plans

    Also known as Long-Range Forecasts. Used for forecasting tax revenues and services and allows the legislative body to see what options are available to them and the financial consequences of each.

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Costing in the City is written by the principals of Revenue & Cost Specialists, L.L.C., a consulting firm that has worked with governmental agencies since 1980. If your agency needs a Cost Allocation Plan, see what we do or check out our software.