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I don't know about you, but I find it hard to digest and remember information when it's just a fact standing on its own. For example, the City of La Mesa's reserve fund is five percent of its operating budget. So what? Is that good or bad?

But if you tell me La Mesa has the smallest reserve fund of any of the 18 cities in the county, that puts it in context. And if you tell me the City of San Diego has the second smallest reserve fund in the county, I understand that it's in bad shape, but also that it isn't the worst in terms of how much money it's set aside for a rainy day.

That's what I aim to do by comparing cities here in San Diego County. Most of us are way too busy to keep track of our local government finances. Heck, it's hard enough to keep up with what Obama is doing this week. But I believe the financial health of our hometowns is important to our quality of life. Especially in times like these when budgets are being squeezed . It's in times of stress that you see the cracks.

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