Fiscal Sustainability Case Investigation--County of San Bernardino

Mark Pisano and Richard F. Callahan
The most significant finding of this case study is the capacity of leadership to change the direction of the county. Recognition of the need for change arose from an ever-widening public conversation regarding the county’s problems and a set of legal actions taken against county leadership. The impending fiscal collapse became a catalyst for positive change rather than a precursor to filing for bankruptcy, as was the case in the same time frame for the City of San Bernardino. The actual change came about through a network of relationships on the part of both the elected and the administrative community within the county. Highly innovative steps that followed many of the lessons of earlier case studies were taken: • Looking at the long-term elements of financial decision making • Projecting costs over time • Analyzing long-term revenues • Accounting for life-cycle costs • Structuring decision making based on knowing all the costs • Developing fiscal fluency Additionally, the case reveals innovation in the process that connects the long-term budget considerations with the long-term strategy planning process to create the possibility of fiscal and environmental sustainability.

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