Local Government Publications

Search Audits for reports on municipalities and school districts dating back to 2014.

Accounting Notices and Bulletins > Reporting

February 2021 –

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide accounting guidance to counties for Medicaid-related intergovernmental transfers (IGTs). Medicaid-related IGTs are funds that are transferred from counties that own or operate health-related facilities (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes, mental health clinics, etc.) to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). These funds, along with the funds provided by the federal government, are used to fund the Medicaid payments made by the NYSDOH directly to the counties.

Cost-Saving Ideas > Capital Projects, Debt

February 2021 –

When preparing your annual operating budget for a water or sewer district, consider setting aside money in a capital or repair reserve fund to be used for future capital projects or certain repair costs. Planning today and saving incrementally can help reduce the financial impact of such expenses on your annual budget.

Establishing and funding allowable reserve funds for a specific intended purpose can smooth out spikes in both expenditures and revenues. Saving for future capital needs can also reduce or eliminate interest and debt issuance costs.
Updated February 2021 (Originally Issued January 2016)

Research Reports > Sales Tax

February 2021 –

New York State local sales tax collections declined by 10 percent (or $1.8 billion) in 2020 compared to 2019, due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic. New York City, which was hit earliest and hardest by the pandemic, saw its collections decline by 18.7 percent in 2020, while counties outside the City saw an average drop of only -0.9 percent.

Research Reports > Sales Tax

February 2021 –

New York State local sales tax collections declined by 10 percent (or $1.8 billion) in 2020 compared to 2019, due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic. New York City, which was hit earliest and hardest by the pandemic, saw its collections decline by 18.7 percent in 2020, while counties outside the City saw an average drop of only -0.9 percent. The pandemic also caused a dramatic shift in consumer spending during the spring and summer months. One change was a significant increase in online purchases. Meanwhile, the state’s recent ability to tax sales made by smaller out-of-state sellers to New York residents – referred to as “marketplace and nexus vendors” – bolstered local sales tax collections. | Regional Table [.xlsx]

Cost-Saving Ideas > Justice Court

January 2021 –

The financing of justice courts is a local responsibility and maintaining a court may pose administrative and financial challenges. As a result, there is growing interest by citizens and local governments to explore consolidation of justice courts, when practicable. In these cases, towns and villages should consider consolidating their justice courts. Benefits of consolidation include, but are not limited to, maximizing services by pooling resources and streamlining the court system by centralizing services.

This resource document provides a step-by-step breakdown of the consolidation process and outlines some of the relevant issues.
Updated January 2021 (Originally Issued January 2017)

Research Reports > Fiscal Stress

January 2021 –

This snapshot highlights the FSMS results for school districts that reported for school fiscal year (SY) 2019-20, which ended on June 30, 2020, which included the period of the statewide mandatory school shutdown from March 18 through the end of the school year. The snapshot also discusses some of the major fiscal stress risk factors posed by the pandemic for school districts in SY 2020-21 (not yet scored).

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight, Purchasing

January 2021 –

State contracts can provide many necessities for local governments and school districts like road salt, fuel, vehicles, heavy equipment, food, furniture, computer hardware and software, and much more. Goods and service contracts fall into three general categories: commodities, service and technology. Capitalizing on the State's buying power and expertise may result in lower prices and better quality goods and services.
Updated January 2021 (Originally Issued January 2016)

Guidance > Cash Disbursements, Cash Receipts, Reporting, Revenues/Cash Management

January 2021 –

Providing for sound cash management assures that investments are optimized for the best possible return for taxpayers.
Updated January 2021 (Originally Issued January 2016)

Local Government Management Guides > Claims Auditing/Credit Cards

December 2020 –

The guide has been written is a resource for those governing bodies and officials who are responsible for the audit of claims. It is also the hope that the information contained in the guide will be valuable to new board members and inexperienced claims auditors. The guide provides a foundation of knowledge that users can build upon as they gain experience auditing claims.

Research Reports > Sales Tax

December 2020 –

Local government sales tax collections declined by 7.1 percent, or $102 million, in November compared to the same month in 2019. The decline is steeper than in October, but not as bad as the double-digit declines in the earlier months (April-June) of the pandemic. All but five counties saw declines in overall collections in November, and New York City had a 6.5 percent, or $45 million, decline. | Regional Table [.xlsx]

Accounting Notices and Bulletins > Capital Projects, Reporting

December 2020 –

The purpose of this bulletin is to inform local government and school district officials of the upcoming new requirements regarding the classification of leases for accounting and reporting purposes, as required by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 87, Leases (Statement 87). This bulletin explains the GASB’s new definition of a lease (including outlining the types of leases that are excluded by this new standard) and an explanation of what a lease term is per Statement 87. | Reasonably Certain Template [.xlsx]

Accounting Notices and Bulletins > Reporting

November 2020 –

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide guidance on identifying fiduciary activities for accounting and financial reporting purposes and how local governments and school districts will need to account for and report these activities in the Annual Update Document (AUD) and the ST-3. | GASB Statement 84 Implementation Guidance Frequently Asked Questions
Updated November 2020 (Originally Issued March 2020)

Research Reports > Sales Tax

November 2020 –

Local government sales tax revenue declined by 5.2 percent, or $74.4 million, in October compared to the same month in 2019. This drop was less severe than previous declines since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the spring when collections fell by double-digits. New York City had a 5.3 percent, or $34.5 million, decline in revenue, and all but eight counties in the state saw drops in collections for October as well. | Regional Table [.xlsx]

Guidance > Capital Projects, Cash Disbursements, Cash Receipts, Debt, General Oversight, Purchasing

November 2020 –

A review of the basic duties of a town supervisor with statutory references designed to assist the newly elected supervisor in becoming familiar with the structure of town government and the supervisor's role in it. This is also a publication useful to town board members and other town officials.
Updated November 2020 (Originally Issued January 2018)

Research Reports > Budgeting, Reporting

October 2020 –

Participation in school district budget votes has been relatively low, particularly since the implementation of the tax cap. In response to the pandemic, school districts in New York State were required to provide all residents with an absentee ballot for the 2020-21 school budget vote. This new process likely contributed to an increase in participation: triple the number of votes were cast compared to the prior year. However, even with a slightly higher percentage of votes cast against the budgets, the ultimate results were similar to those of last year’s traditional voting process: nearly all budgets were approved on the first vote. For district-level information: http://wwe1.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/research-budget-votes/budget-votes.cfm.

Research Reports > Sales Tax

October 2020 –

Statewide local sales tax collections in the third quarter of 2020 declined by 9.5 percent, or $452 million, over the same quarter in 2019. This decrease, while alarming in a typical year, was still a marked improvement from the 27.1 percent drop in the second quarter, which reflected the peak of the economic impact to date from the COVID-19 pandemic. New York City’s steep decline of nearly 22 percent in sales tax revenue was the main driver behind the overall drop in local government collections in the third quarter. Nearly every other region of the state saw at least some increase over the third quarter of 2019, although these increases were not as strong as in the pre-COVID first quarter. | Regional Table [.xlsx]

Research Reports > Sales Tax

October 2020 –

New York State imposes a "general sales tax" at a single rate on most goods and some services. Counties and cities can impose their own local sales tax in addition to the State rate. Local sales tax revenue is a major part of local government finances, amounting to $16.9 billion in 2019. This report is an update to the Office of the State Comptroller’s March 2015 publication on local government sales taxes in New York State.

Research Reports >

September 2020 –

This snapshot highlights the results for counties, cities, towns and villages that reported for local fiscal years ending (FYE) 2019. These scores, therefore, provide a baseline for local government fiscal preparedness in the period just prior to the pandemic. To provide additional context for these results, this snapshot also examines some of the biggest local government fiscal stress risk factors arising from the COVID-19 crisis.

Research Reports > Fiscal Stress

September 2020 –

This snapshot highlights the results for counties, cities, towns and villages that reported for local fiscal years ending (FYE) 2019. These scores, therefore, provide a baseline for local government fiscal preparedness in the period just prior to the pandemic. To provide additional context for these results, this snapshot also examines some of the biggest local government fiscal stress risk factors arising from the COVID-19 crisis.

Research Reports > Sales Tax

September 2020 –

Local government sales tax revenue declined by 7.8 percent, or $111 million, in August compared to the same month last year. This drop in revenue is similar to the overall decline in July of 8.2 percent, though much less extreme than the early months of the pandemic when sales tax collections plummeted by double digits. All but two counties in the state experienced decreases in overall collections for August, and New York City’s collections dropped by 7.1 percent. | Regional Table [.xlsx]