Local Government Publications

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

March 2020 –

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide updated information regarding pension accounting treatment and guidance on how our local governments and school districts can comply with the new requirements, including compliance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), the Annual Update Document (AUD) and ST-3.
Updated March 2020 (Originally Issued May 2015)

March 2020 –

Local officials are statutorily required to file certain financial reports annually with the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC). While most local governments file within required timeframes, some do not. A relatively small number of local governments are severely delinquent—failing to file for three or more years—which calls into question the financial standing of the locality as well as the effectiveness of the management of the local government in general.

February 2020 –

The following report highlights the very difficult fiscal environment under which local officials are expected to fulfill their obligations to the people they serve, as well as outlining the significant steps OSC is taking to assist in these efforts. | NYS Local Government Interactive Data

February 2020 –

Local sales tax collections in New York State totaled $18.3 billion in 2019 for a year-over-year increase of 4.7 percent. While this was slower than the 5.3 percent annual growth for 2018, it exceeded growth in all other years since 2013. The economic climate in 2019 was generally positive for sales tax growth. The statewide labor market remained firm throughout the year, with continued employment and wage growth. Consumer spending also held up well throughout the year, despite slightly reduced consumer confidence over prior years.

January 2020 –

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide guidance related to accounting for Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM)-Related Payments. These payments are a result of a recent amendment to the New York State Tax Law, which requires a portion of county-imposed sales tax revenues to be withheld and distributed by the State Comptroller to certain towns and villages in accordance with new Tax Law Section 1261.
Updated January 2020 (Originally Issued December 2019)

January 2020 –

This report summarizes results of school district scores for the 2018-19 fiscal school year (SY) and compares results to SYs 2016-17 and 2017-18. The report reflects the seventh annual release of FSMS scores. FSMS covers 674 school districts in 57 counties, but excludes the New York City School District.

November 2019 –

Local government debt is necessary for the funding of expensive and long-lived capital infrastructure. However, high debt can place pressure on a local government’s ability to pay debt service while still addressing other funding needs, and increasing reliance on short-term debt could be a sign of structural budget imbalance. Local debt outstanding appears to have stabilized since the last recession, after more than a decade of substantial increases. Some types of local government, especially counties and fire districts, have continued to increase their total levels of debt. In general, downstate has the highest debt per capita, although there are pockets of higher debt around the State.

November 2019 –

Local sales tax collections in New York State totaled $4.8 billion in the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 6.3 percent over the third quarter of 2018. This growth was stronger than in either of the first two quarters of the year.

November 2019 –

The Office of the State Comptroller collects property tax levy and assessed value data from local governments statewide and makes this information available online. These detailed tables show tax levies, property values and tax rates for each city, county, town, village and school district in the State. This report uses 2019 data to summarize property tax results and trends in the State. 

October 2019 –

Malicious software, or malware, refers to software programs that are designed to harm computer systems. These programs can wreak havoc on both systems and electronic data by, for example, deleting files, gathering sensitive information such as passwords without the computer user’s knowledge and making systems inoperable. Computer users can inadvertently install malware on their computers by many methods, including opening email attachments, downloading content from the Internet or merely visiting infected websites.

October 2019 –

The impact of an unplanned IT disruption involving the corruption or loss of data or other computer resources could significantly curtail an organization’s operations. Proactively anticipating and planning for IT disruptions prepares personnel for the actions they must take if this happens.

October 2019 –

The purpose of this guidance is to provide a basic overview of wireless technology and security. There are a number of steps that local governments and school districts can take to help mitigate the risks of wireless technology. Although wireless environments and their related security systems can be quite complex, a government personnel can implement effective controls with relative ease and without incurring additional cost.

October 2019 –

Years ago, Industrial Control Systems (ICS) were considered low-risk because they were isolated from networks and the Internet but interconnectivity with the outside world is now a reality. There are many steps municipalities can take to improve their ICS cybersecurity and better protect the health and safety of their residents.

September 2019 –

This report summarizes the fiscal and environmental results of all 1,586 New York counties, cities, towns and villages for their fiscal years ending (FYE) in 2018 and compares results to FYE 2017. It also points to useful tools to help local governments experiencing stress, such as multiyear financial planning to ensure that financial resources are available for future needs. 

September 2019 –

The City of Schenectady recently began installing energy saving LED street lights and expanding wireless connectivity to certain neighborhoods as part of its Smart City Project. Other local governments across New York State are also turning to new technologies to save money, better communicate with residents and allow taxpayers to make payments online. The report notes that local government leaders should be prepared to systematically address the heightened need for cybersecurity, particularly concerning smart infrastructure devices and related data.

September 2019 –

Local governments undertake capital projects to acquire, develop, improve or maintain various facilities, other infrastructure and/or equipment. These projects are generally large in scale, require large sums of money and are long-term. A capital projects fund is used to account for the financial resources supporting capital projects during the life of the project. This guide is intended to provide local officials with an overview of the use of capital projects funds and guidance on the fundamentals of accounting for capital projects. Accounting and reporting for capital projects can be a complex matter. As a result, we have developed several comprehensive examples and corresponding journal entries: Sample Capital Project #1 - Construction of a new office building (City) [pdf]; Sample Capital Project #2 - Purchase of a new highway truck (Town) [pdf]; Sample Capital Project #3 - Purchase of a new highway truck (Village) [pdf].

August 2019 –

New York State’s Constitutional Tax Limit (CTL) restricts the amounts local governments may raise by taxing real estate in any fiscal year. All cities, counties and villages must comply. Overall, relatively few municipalities are dangerously close to their CTL; however, the number has been increasing in recent years. For these communities, the CTL poses a serious constraint on their ability to generate revenue. This report, using data through 2018, examines recent trends in the proximity of cities (excluding New York City), counties and villages to the CTL and focuses in more detail on those for whom the CTL poses the biggest budgeting challenge.

August 2019 –

Parents, educators, the public and State policymakers agree that student safety must be a top priority in every school. This report summarizes some of the information reported by New York’s public school districts on violent and disruptive incidents and expenditures on school building security materials and equipment, and includes a series of regional profiles.

August 2019 –

The Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) has compiled the manual as a comprehensive accounting/reporting guide for school district officials and others interested in accounting and financial reporting by school districts in New York State. It provides an overview of generally accepted governmental accounting and financial reporting principles, and OSC’s interpretations of such principles, where pronouncements are silent or do not address problems common among school districts within New York State.

July 2019 –

Local sales tax collections for the first half of 2019 totaled $8.8 billion in New York State. Collections grew by 3.4 percent and 3.2 percent in the first and second quarters, respectively, over the same periods in 2018. This moderate pace is closer to those seen in most of 2017 than to the stronger early quarters of 2018.