Projects & Policy






Receiving the ICMA Performance Management Award



































Professional Expertise                                          

Jason Stilwell

I believe in public service through professional management.  I have spent the past 18 years providing professional management to local governments.  I have sought to continually improve my professional abilities through ongoing training and by broadening my knowledge of professional local government management.    




An expert witness is a witness, who by virtue of education, training, skill, or experience, is believed to have knowledge in a particular subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon the witness's specialized (scientific, technical or other) opinion about an evidence or fact issue within the scope of their expertise, referred to as the expert opinion, as an assistance to the fact-finder.

My expert witness experience has been in the areas of:

  • Municipal finance
  • Council-Manager form of government
  • Redevelopment Agency finance and management
  • Special District creation, dissolution, management, and finance

For information or inquiries about my serving as an expert witness, please contact the Association of Scientific Advisers.




  ICMA Logo

Credentialed Manager - International City County Management Association (ICMA)                 

Being a credentialed manager denotes a commitment to professional local government management.  I first earned my credential in 2003 and have maintained it continuously since.  Maintaining such an expertise is important in assuring a community is well served and that government remains efficient and effective.  

The designation indicates that a member is qualified by a combination of education and experience, adherence to high standards of integrity, and an assessed commitment to continuous learning and professional development. To maintain the credential, members must submit an annual report describing 40 hours of professional development during the previous year.  For more information about the ICMA credential program click here.

I have developed and utilize a variety of management systems to assure projects are completed and policies are implemented.  In my professional leadership roles I work to assure best practices are followed in complying with the direction of elected officials.  I also enthusiastically embrace opportunities to teach and explain my successes in developing and using complex management systems.  Having good management systems is key to being able to manage the variety of complex challenges facing today's public organizations.   Click here to see the policy implementation model the County Executive Officer and I developed for Santa Barbara County.  





  GFOA logo

Budget Reviewer - Government Finance Officers Association's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award Program

I have prepared budgets for three municipalities and a county.  All have been complex, involving various legally distinct funds, and have served the community and elected officials by being accurate, complete, and balanced.  Each budget was balanced and I managed each to year end surpluses even in both fiscal environments of large growth and steady declines.  See my budget page for links and information on each of these budgets.   

In addition I am a reviewer for GFOA to both offer my expertise to other communities seeking to improve their budget documents and to keep current in the best practices being used by governments across the United States.  I have been a GFOA budget reviewer since 1999. 

The GFOA established the Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program (Budget Awards Program) in 1984 to encourage and assist state and local governments to prepare budget documents of the very highest quality that reflect both the guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA’s recommended practices on budgeting and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal. For more information about the GFOA Budget Awards Program click here. 






  Aesthetic Development


Served as a manager and executive in smart growing communities


Land use planning, coordinating growth, development review, and community development have all been issues and processes I have experience successfully managing.  I have been directly involved in providing opportunities for communities to develop, grow smartly, and utilize complex techniques for managing such growth. 

  • Annexations:  I have negotiated annexation agreements with land owners that comply with a municipality's comprehensive plan and its ability to fund service to the annexed area;  
  • Intergovernmental Agreements:  I have successfully negotiated complex intergovernmental agreements between municipalities and between a municipality and a county or special districts.  These have included joint development agreements, tax sharing agreements, and open space preservation agreements - most of which involved resource or policy competition making the negotiation process challenging and the need for a strong agreement that could withstand legal challenge while being flexible to change;
  • Land use planning:  Developing initial policy goals and direction is fundamental to successful land use planning.  I provided executive oversight to planning functions including developing planning scenarios for decision making bodies, managing the update of land use plans and policies, and serving as primary staff contact to the Planning Commission. 
  • Development Review:  I believe the pre-application with a prospective developer is a very important and cost effective first step to provide a developer general feedback of the goals of the community and the community's vision of the particular parcel of land seeking to be developed.  I facilitated pre-application meetings to assure prospective developers receive comprehensive feedback prior to submitting an application and entering the formal development review process. 
  • Building inspection:  I served as executive in charge of building and safety functions supervising the Chief Building Official.  In addition to assuring inspections were timely and building codes were adhered to I oversaw a process that outsourced the municipality's building inspection service.  This involved creating a Request for Proposals (RFP) process, interviewing and selecting a preferred contractor, and making a recommendation to the elected decision making body that enhanced levels of service, reduced costs, and assured municipal building inspection department staff did not lose their jobs.
  • Financial analysis:  I have served as key staff member and as consultant on financial analyses of annexations, land use plans, and development proposals.  Although the financial results were not always what the community had hoped for, the analyses proved accurate, comprehensive, and as vital information to enable the decision makers to chart a course.   
  • Smart Growth:  I have met policy goals of both slow growth and fast growth communities having the expertise to accomplish either in an effective manner utilizing complex strategies.   I have been successful in implementing complex processes to preserve undeveloped land as open space; these included intergovernmental agreements, ballot initiatives, purchase by land preservationists, and developer exactions.  I have been successful in assuring that when a community desires intensive land use, such as a power center, that it is built with enhanced architectural features and provides an aesthetic value to the community.   




  water district

Managed and administered various complex economic development, utility, and community service districts

Special districts are separate legal entities designed to provide specific services.  In my municipal management experience I have utilized a number of independent or quasi-independent entities to facilitate a local government's ability to serve the community or finance infrastructure projects.  These include:

  • Special Districts:  I have created, managed, and dissolved (yes, they do dissolve sometimes) special districts (water, sewer, recreation, and infrastructure districts).  Such districts serve valuable functions especially in the political climate of assuring development pays its own way and the taxpayer fatigue (post-Proposition 13) environment but need to be managed to assure efficiency in operations and transparency of effectiveness;    
  • Tax Increment Financing Districts:  TIF financing is a valuable tool for redevelopment or for encouraging high revenue generating development.  I have been the key member of the financial arm of the district creation process (with attorneys comprising the legal arm) assuring financial plans are accurate and conservative and that developer assurances are realistic and binding. 
  • Urban Renewal Authorities:  URAs continue to be viable tools for improving a community even in the post Kelo environment.  I have utilized URAs to combine parcels to a large developable parcel, to reinvigorate with public improvements and private investment a densely populated blighted community, and to encourage land uses that would not otherwise be viable.  
  • Community Facilities Districts (Mello-Roos):  these districts are utilized by local governments in California to levy property taxes to fund public improvements.  I have worked to assure these districts were in place for pending development, held landowner elections to be included into the district, developed the financing plan for the public improvements, and managed the annual tax levying process.   These districts are good methods of generating secure revenue to pay for increased public services but can be criticized, as can many forms of special districts, for being less than transparent, circumventing voter approved tax and revenue limits, and being an exaction to a developer that is unfairly encumbers future property owners. 
  • Fire protection districts:  these single purpose special districts can be valuable tools for designating funding for fire protection services and can create an organizational structure that is single focused on quality fire services.  I have worked in local governments that have had dependent fire protection districts (whereas the local government's and fire district's elected officials are the same), independent fire protection districts (where the community was served by a fire department separate from the community), and have transitioned from an in-house fire service to an independent special district (where the municipality essentially outsourced the fire protection services to a fire district).   











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Copyright © 2015
Jason Stilwell
PO Box 91132
Santa Barbara, CA  93190-1132