The purpose of our budget review was to provide an independent evaluation of the City’s adopted budget for the 2021 fiscal year.
The COVID-19 pandemic (pandemic) has had various levels of impact on the financial operations of local governments across New York State. Some local governments have seen little to no impact on their financial operations, while others have seen more significant impacts due to reductions and/or increases to their revenues and/or expenditures. This has led to some local governments having to reduce or eliminate some services and temporarily or permanently reduce staff positions. In addition, some local officials have decided to delay capital projects, which could result in future delays to other projects to maintain and improve local government infrastructures.
The pandemic has also created a difficult environment for officials to develop annual budgets given the unknowns of future financial impacts. The pandemic increases the need for local officials to more closely monitor their budgeted estimates for revenues and expenditures against actual results, and modify their budgetary estimates accordingly, when warranted, during the course of their fiscal year.
To assess whether local officials adequately considered the impact of the pandemic on their financial operations while developing their 2021 fiscal year budgets, our office conducted reviews of 20 adopted budgets of various counties, cities, towns and villages across the State.
The City of Saratoga Springs (City) is one of the local governments included in our review. The City is located in Saratoga County.
- Our review found that officials adequately assessed the impact of the pandemic on financial operations while developing estimates for significant expenditures in the 2021 adopted budget.
- However, the adopted general fund budget includes estimated revenues for Federal aid that will not be fully realized, and State funding for Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) and Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) aid which may not be realized.
- Amend the general fund budget for the Federal aid revenue shortfall.
- Be prepared to amend the general fund budget in the event the revenue projections for AIM funding and VLT aid are not fully realized.
- Carefully monitor revenues and expenditures throughout the year and closely monitor ongoing discussions and legislative acts at both the State and Federal level that could be beneficial or detrimental to the City’s financial operations. Officials should use this information to make adjustments to the budget as needed throughout the year.