The purpose of our budget review was to provide an independent evaluation of the County’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.
Essex County (County) is one of the local governments included in our review. The County is located in northeastern New York State and encompasses 18 towns and two villages.
- 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.
- In consideration of the continually new and evolving impacts caused by the pandemic, County officials should carefully monitor their budgeted to actual revenues and expenditures and make amendments to the budget as needed throughout the year.