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Local Government and School Accountability

Determining and Allocating the True Cost of Services

A Tutorial for Local Governments and School Districts

The following two modules are designed to help local government and school district officials develop a better working knowledge of how to determine and allocate the true cost of services. Although vast differences exist in the size and nature of local governments and school districts, and in the services they provide, the key topics covered are sufficiently broad to apply to any type of government unit.

Local governments and school districts across New York State face the challenge of how to maintain quality services for their constituents and students while costs continue to rise and State and federal assistance falls. Governing board members are examining options such as privatizing, consolidating, or discontinuing services. In order to make the best decisions possible, and to communicate these decisions to taxpayers, officials must be able to determine the actual cost of the services in question.

Governing board members, chief executive officers, and administrative staff have two important tools available to them: their locality’s annual budget and its accounting and recordkeeping system. Let’s start with the annual budget.

  Next: Module 1: Annual Budget