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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Press Releases

September 23, 2015, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli: Scores Reveal Fiscal Stress Continues for Certain Communities

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System has designated 44 municipalities across the state as fiscally stressed, this includes 12 counties, 11 cities and 21 towns. For the third consecutive year DiNapoli’s office has evaluated the financial stability of local governments and has identified 70 municipalities in fiscal stress at least once during this period.

“The financial trends in some local governments have not improved over the past three years, and it is looking tougher for New York’s cities,” said DiNapoli. “While it is clear that our municipalities continue to struggle with balancing revenues against increasing costs, we also know that sensible budgeting and developing comprehensive multiyear financial plans are crucial to overcoming both current and future fiscal challenges.”

The latest round of scores is based on 2014 financial information provided to DiNapoli’s office by local governments as of Aug. 31, 2015 and includes only municipalities with fiscal years ending on Dec. 31, 2014. In New York, all counties and towns, 44 cities and 10 villages have a calendar-based fiscal year – a total of 1,043 communities.

Based on their 2014 financial statements, 15 entities have received the highest designation of “significant fiscal stress.” This includes the counties of Monroe, Broome, Nassau, St. Lawrence, Franklin and Rockland; the cities of Glen Cove and Albany; and the towns of East Fishkill, Jasper, Ramapo, Pierrepont, Coeymans, Cherry Valley and Parish.

Eleven communities have been listed in the second highest category of “moderate fiscal stress.” This includes Suffolk County, the cities of Poughkeepsie, Little Falls, Fulton and Glens Falls; and the towns of Hempstead, Colonie, Napoli, Saugerties, Rochester and German Flatts.

Another 18 municipalities have been listed in the third category as “susceptible to fiscal stress.”

DiNapoli’s monitoring system evaluates local governments on nine financial indicators and creates a fiscal condition score. Indicators include fund balance, cash-on-hand and patterns of operating deficits. The system also evaluates environmental information such as population trends, poverty and unemployment. Each municipality receives a separate environmental score.

When examining the scoring results, DiNapoli noted 14 municipalities were designated in stress for each of the three years since he implemented the system, 21 were in stress in two out of three years and 35 for only one of three years. Most notably, four counties have been in significant stress for all three years (Franklin, Monroe, Rockland and St. Lawrence).

Other findings include:

  • Last year, 35 calendar year entities were designated as fiscally stressed;
  • Twenty calendar year entities moved into a fiscal stress category in 2014;
  • Eleven calendar year entities moved out of fiscal stress category in 2014;
  • In 2014, more than 21 percent of counties and 25 percent of calendar year cities were in a fiscal stress category, while just over 2 percent of towns were stressed;
  • Downstate had a larger percentage of calendar year entities in stress, with 25 percent of those on Long Island (4 of 16) and 8 percent of those in the Mid-Hudson region (10 of 123) listed; and
  • More than two dozen municipalities failed to file their financial data in time to receive a fiscal stress score in all three reporting years. This includes the city of Ithaca and 25 towns.

The fiscally stressed governments identified today join the previously announced 115 municipalities and school districts that have been classified in some level of fiscal stress as of their 2014 fiscal year end date.

Last year, DiNapoli’s legislative proposal to help local governments across New York improve their long-term budget planning was signed into law. The law allows counties, cities, towns and villages identified as fiscally stressed to be reimbursed by the state’s Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments for all or part of the costs associated with long-term budget planning, including hiring financial advisors to assist in the development of multi-year budget plans.

Multiyear financial planning is a tool that will enable these entities to develop revenue and expenditure trends, establish long-term priorities and goals, and take into consideration the impact of near-term budgeting decisions on future fiscal years. It also allows officials to assess alternative approaches to financing operations.

In addition, DiNapoli's Division of Local Government and School Accountability conducts ongoing outreach with local government officials throughout the fiscal monitoring process and has created a number of tools to help municipal officials better understand their financial data, the impact it has on their score and their financial condition. The Comptroller’s office has also launched a new training academy for local government officials that will increase training efforts related to financial oversight and budgeting activities.

For a copy of DiNapoli’s report Three Years of the Fiscal Stress Monitoring System, visit:
http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/fiscalmonitoring/pdf/threeyearsfsms_0915.pdf

To view the complete, sortable list of fiscal scores for municipalities, visit:
http://wwe1.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/fiscalmonitoring/fsms.cfm

For more detailed information about the Comptroller’s fiscal stress monitoring system and to view reports related to local government fiscal stress visit:
www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/fiscalmonitoring/index.htm

For access to state and local government spending, public authority financial data and information on 50,000 state contracts, visit Open Book New York. The easy-to-use website was created by DiNapoli to promote openness in government and provide taxpayers with better access to the financial workings of government.

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