Local Government Publications

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

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight

January 2016 –

The external auditor performs the legally required financial statement audit and renders an opinion on whether the financial statements are in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight

January 2016 –

Find specific sections of the law related to capital asset management.

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight

January 2016 –

When municipal employees travel on business, such as to attend conferences and training classes, generally you may only reimburse them for authorized expenses that they actually incur and are deemed necessary. By requiring travelers to document their expenses and follow set guidelines for reimbursement, you can cut costs and mitigate the risk of fraud.

Cost-Saving Ideas > Claims Auditing/Credit Cards, Payroll/Employee Benefits, Purchasing

January 2016 –

You must provide your employees workers’ compensation coverage as a mandatory benefit. Local governments can get insurance for workers’ compensation in one of four ways:

  • Purchase a policy from a private sector insurance carrier
  • Purchase a policy from the New York State Insurance Fund
  • Become self-insured as authorized by the Workers' Compensation Law
  • Participate in a county self-insurance plan as authorized by the Workers' Compensation Law
Cost-Saving Ideas > Purchasing, Reporting

January 2016 –

To effectively manage your local government’s capital assets, you must develop a long-term plan. The plan should address how you monitor and maintain assets and how much you can spend within your budget.

By developing a structured approach for assessing and funding capital assets, you can help avoid the unexpected, such as sudden road or building closures or cost overruns.

Cost-Saving Ideas > Payroll/Employee Benefits, Purchasing

January 2016 –

As an employer, you should always look for ways to contain health insurance costs without cutting current benefit levels.

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight, Purchasing

January 2016 –

To ensure your fleet operation is cost effective and efficient, you should establish a management policy that each department can monitor for compliance.

Essential to this oversight is keeping good records, such as vehicle daily mileage logs, fuel usage logs, and the cumulative costs of parts, labor and overhead by a vehicle over its life.

Because your municipality’s fleet and usage are unique, use these guidelines to craft an effective fleet management system best suited to your needs.

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight

January 2016 –

The internal auditor:

  • develops a risk assessment and ensures proper internal controls are in place and working;
  • performs an annual update on the risk assessment;
  • tests and evaluates one or more areas of the district’s operations periodically; and
  • prepares reports analyzing risk assessment findings and recommends changes for strengthening internal controls and reducing identified risks.

The internal auditor must report directly to the board.

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight, Payroll/Employee Benefits

January 2016 –

Reducing the cost of employee salaries and benefits by even a small percentage can result in significant savings.

Employee salaries and benefits, including pension benefits, are large expenses for New York's local governments and school districts. These costs represent nearly 57 percent of annual budget expenditures, on average.

Overtime wages can significantly increase personal service1 and pension costs. For example, 8 to 30 percent of wages paid to highway employees in New York State are for overtime.

A written plan to guide the assignment of overtime hours in the most efficient and effective manner can help control overtime costs. When local governments and school districts analyze the factors that lead to overtime, they may be able to reduce or eliminate overtime through the use of alternate work schedules.

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight, Payroll/Employee Benefits

January 2016 –

You can take steps to reduce the cost of unemployment insurance, which provides short-term financial assistance to people who become unemployed through no fault of their own. The New York State Department of Labor (DOL) determines who qualifies for benefits and individual employers fund their own programs.

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight

January 2016 –

Whether your municipality provides garbage collection services directly or by contract with a private company, citizens must receive the highest quality of service for the lowest possible cost.

To determine if your community’s system of collection is the most cost-effective, evaluate different methods and estimate the cost of each option. The local government, when considering which system of collection to use, should also consult with its legal counsel, as appropriate.

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight, Purchasing

January 2016 –

You can realize significant savings for your school district or local government by paying less for energy and consuming less energy. Reducing energy consumption also makes communities greener.

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight

January 2016 –

As a member of a board of education (board), you’re responsible for ensuring the school budget is well managed and operations are cost effective. Auditing provides your board the best opportunity for improving fiscal management and protecting taxpayer dollars through expert and independent review.

Use this reference guide to familiarize yourself with the different roles and responsibilities in the audit process.

Accounting Notices and Bulletins > Reporting

December 2015 –

This bulletin provides updated information on the accounting for aid received from the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), superseding an earlier bulletin issued by the Office of the State Comptroller for local governments in New York State. This bulletin incorporates threshold changes and updated account codes used for reporting. All previous guidance has been incorporated into this bulletin.
Updated December 2015 (Originally Issued October 1991)

Accounting Notices and Bulletins > Capital Projects, Purchasing, Reporting, Revenues/Cash Management

December 2015 –

This bulletin provides updated information on the accounting for loans received pursuant to the NYS Emergency Services Revolving Loan Account. It incorporates changes in the law and updated account codes used for reporting. All previous guidance has been incorporated into this bulletin.
Updated December 2015 (Originally Issued June 2015)

Accounting Notices and Bulletins > Capital Projects

December 2015 –

This bulletin provides updated information on the accounting for installment purchase contracts, superseding an earlier bulletin issued by the Office of the State Comptroller for local governments in New York State. All previous guidance has been incorporated into this bulletin.
Updated December 2015 (Originally Issued January 1991)

Research Reports > Financial Condition, Revenues/Cash Management

September 2015 –

Declining trends in the horse racing industry and an increase in gaming options have taken their toll on OTBs. With the advent of commercial casinos in the State, policymakers have an opportunity to re-examine the viability of OTBs and how they fit into State-authorized gambling.

Research Reports > Fiscal Stress

September 2015 –

In September 2015, OSC released the third annual set of Fiscal Stress Monitoring System (FSMS) scores for all municipalities that have fiscal years that operate on a calendar year basis. This includes all 57 counties outside of New York City, all 932 towns in the State, 44 cities and 10 villages – a total of 1,043 municipalities. Since the FSMS now encompasses three years of data for these "calendar year" municipalities, it is possible to start to discern trends in the financial performance of these local governments. 

Research Reports > Reporting

August 2015 –

While trends in both new foreclosure filings and the total number of pending foreclosure cases indicate that the problem is far from resolved, there are small signs of improvement.

Research Reports > Reporting

July 2015 –

Based on Consumer Price Index data, the downward trend in inflation means that local governments operating on a December 31 fiscal year end will see the inflation factor decrease to 0.73 percent, causing a significant reduction over prior years in the allowable levy growth factor, an important component of their tax cap calculation. OSC estimates that these calendar year local governments will have roughly $135.1 million less than they would have had if the factor was at 2 percent.