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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

The Academy for New York State's Local Officials

Determining and Allocating the True Cost of Services: A Tutorial for Local Governments and School Districts

Module 1 - Annual Budget

Annual Budget Strengths and Weaknesses

The coding structure and functional groupings utilized in the line item budget are based on the Uniform Systems of Accounts prescribed by the State Comptroller’s Office. In terms of presentation, the line item budget has inherent strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths

  • Provides uniformity through the coding structure, which facilitates data collection
  • Facilitates comparisons with prior years’ budgets and actual results of operations
  • Provides a detailed and highly structured means of controlling expenditures
  • Is compatible with the prescribed accounting and reporting guidelines

Weaknesses

  • Basic governmental services are fragmented among a variety of funds
  • Emphasis is placed upon the inputs or required resources, rather than the services or desired results
  • Separate schedules are provided for appropriations and estimated revenues; as a result, the program or service costs, i.e., expenditures less attributable revenues, are not presented
  • Indirect costs, including shared services and undistributed costs, such as employee benefits, are not required to be apportioned to services resulting in an understatement of cost
  • The number of funds and detailed revenue and appropriation accounts result in a document that is far too voluminous to encourage or permit meaningful analysis of what services are being provided and at what cost

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