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Richard Berkson

Berkson Associates Provides Policy Planning, Analysis and Forecasting

Berkson Associates specializes in fiscal, financial and economic evaluation to improve California city and special district plans, programs and land use policy. Tools include budget planning, financial benchmarking, cost management, economic development and revenue generating strategies. Forecasting scenarios provide a foundation for strategic management to improve service delivery and organization.

Asset Fiscalometer Gauge Financial Indicators for Cities and Agencies

.... can help you answer the following questions:

Is your city or agency performing at or above typical financial benchmarks?

Are best practices being followed to improve transparency and financial sustainability?

Is your city or agency financially-positioned to expand services, annex territory, or serve new development?

See also selected reports by Berkson Associates and recent projects summarized below.


Service Reviews in East Palo Alto Helps Improve Sanitary Services

Berkson Associates, in association with PCA, prepared Municipal Service Reviews (MSRs) for the City of East Palo Alto, East Palo Alto Sanitary District (EPASD), and West Bay Sanitary District (WBSD).

The City of East Palo Alto, as well as private and non-profit developers, requested the MSR to address the inability of planned development to obtain sanitary service will-serve letters from EPASD.

Berkson Associates and PCA prepared detailed analyses of public services provided by the agencies. The MSRs focused on EPASD and its lack of infrastructure planning and improvements required to fix identified pipeline deficiencies serving existing residents, as well as its lack of financial plans to accommodate proposed development.

In July 2022 the East Palo Alto City Council directed staff to prepare an application to LAFCO with supporting materials to reorganize EPASD into a subsidiary district of the City. This proposal is intended to improve sewer service efficiency, transparency, and responsiveness to City General Plan goals consistent with findings of the MSR.

Cover of Napa Water/Wastewater MSR

Berkson and PCA Complete Comprehensive Water/Wastewater Service Review for Napa LAFCO

The Municipal Service Review (MSR), prepared by Berkson Associates in association with Policy Consulting Associates (PCA), provides a comprehensive review of water, wastewater, and recycled water service in Napa County as provided by 14 local governmental agencies including cities and special districts. The report establishes a database and basis for the Napa Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to make determinations and recommendations on a number of factors addressing growth and population trends, disadvantaged unincorporated communities, infrastructure needs or deficiencies, financial indicators and fiscal health, opportunities for shared facilities, and accountability for community service needs.

Cover of Mountain House Feasibility Study

Mountain House Considers Incorporation as California's Newest City

On October 14th, 2020, the Mountain House Community Services District (MHCSD) received an incorporation feasibility study and presentation from Berkson Associates. The MHCSD unanimously voted to direct the District's manager to draft an application to LAFCO to become a city.

The report found that the new city could be feasible. Unlike many other communities attempting incorporation, Mountain House already has a governance structure in the form of a CSD, and special taxes fund a significant share of the District services that resemble those provided by many cities. The report included a ten-year budget forecast for the new city.

Cover of MSR for Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, and Westlake Village

Berkson Associates Teams with PCA to Prepare Municipal Service Reviews of Four LA County Cities

Berkson Associates (BA) and Policy Consulting Associates, LLC (PCA) prepared a Municipal Services Review (MSR) for the cities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, and Westlake Village. The MSR evaluated the adequacy of service provision and measured financial sustainability utilizing indicators of financial health. The MSR recommended changes to Spheres of Influence (SOIs) for each city. LAFCO accepted the report at its September 2020 meeting and adopted SOI changes the following month.

Cover of Balboa Fiscal Feasibility Report

Berkson Associates Fiscal Analysis Helps Pave the Way for Approval of 1,100 New Homes at Balboa Reservoir

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the Balboa Reservoir Project August 11, 2020. Berkson Associates (BA) prepared a fiscal feasibility (Chapter 29) report in 2018 that was required prior to the City entering into negotiations with the development team that included Bridge Housing, AvalonBay and Mission Housing. Half of the units will be affordable and another 150 units will be earmarked for City College teachers and staff. The project will also include a community center, open space, child-care center and $10 million in fees for transit and infrastructure improvements. BA updated the fiscal analysis in 2020 prior to Supervisors final Project approvals.

Cover of Contra Costa MSR Update

Financial Assessment Provided by Berkson Associates for Contra Costa Cities and Special Districts MSR

Berkson Associates, as a subconsultant, updated municipal service reviews for 19 cities and four special districts in Contra Costa County. The fiscal and financial analysis analysis reviewed Annual Financial Reports and budgets for all agencies. Fiscal indicators derived from a number of sources helped to flag any negative fiscal conditions and trends affecting the agencies, resulting in SOI recommendations. The project was completed in June, 2019.

Page from Assessment of CSJC Utility Systems

Fiscal Assessment of Utility Systems Helps Decide Future Consolidation

Orange County LAFCO commissioned a Municipal Service Review (MSR) focusing on the potential transfer of the operations and facilities of San Juan Capistrano's water and wastewater utility to another public agency. Berkson Associates prepared a fiscal assessment of the utility systems. The MSR will serve as the foundation for a review and analysis of any plan for service and application submitted by an agency.

Report Cover - San Anselmo Economic Development Plan

BA Prepares Economic Development Plan & Strategies

This Economic Development Plan provides direction to residents, merchants and community leaders to improve San Anselmo's economy and attract the types of businesses that will benefit the community. The document describes a range of actions that can help address business constraints and enhance the Town's strengths through public services and programs, community marketing efforts, and physical improvements.



Municipal Service Reviews and Special Studies

Annexation and Tax Sharing

Incorporation, District Formation & Governance Options



Development Impacts on Public Services, Costs and Revenues

Public Revenue Projections

Asset Management Policies and Programs

Economic Development



Finance Plans and Impact Fees



Market Studies and Pro Forma Analysis

Richard Berkson
Richard Berkson,
Principal of Berkson Associates, believes that sound policies and strategies require careful consideration of causality, creative problem solving, and incentive-based solutions. His practice is founded on 30+ years of experience providing clear and concise fiscal and financial analysis. His approach is based on a solid understanding of local government organization (e.g., formation, annexation, and consolidation), capital improvement policy and programming, and urban economics (demographics, market & financial analysis).

Mr. Berkson was a founding partner of Economic and Planning Systems (EPS) and principal of EPS for over 32 years before forming Berkson Associates. He graduated from the Goldman School at UC Berkeley with a Masters Degree in Public Policy after studying at MIT and UC Berkeley as an undergraduate. He is an associate member of CALAFCO and has been active in the organization for several years. In his spare time he enjoys painting and microfarming, and holds a patent as inventor of a composting device.