Local Government Publications

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

Research Reports > Fiscal Stress, Sales Tax

July 2016 –

Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster and Sullivan counties make up New York’s Mid-Hudson region. Much of the region is suburban, with greater development near the Hudson River, Metro-North railroad stations and major roadways into New York City. Economically, the Mid-Hudson region is relatively prosperous: county median incomes and property values are both well above the State and national averages as are the costs of living and doing business there. Current unemployment is below 5 percent in most of the counties, with a significant number of residents commuting to New York City. Recent economic development efforts have focused on attracting biotechnology and other high-tech manufacturing and on activities that take advantage of the region’s extensive road systems and generally well-developed infrastructure.

Local Government Management Guides > Budgeting, General Oversight

July 2016 –

This guide covers the following key fiscal oversight responsibilities of a governing board: developing policies, monitoring fiscal operations and conducting audits.

Research Reports > Information Technology, Reporting

June 2016 –

Audits conducted by OSC have shown that some types of weaknesses are persistently prevalent in local government and school district IT systems, regardless of the complexity or size of the system. This guide provides information for local leaders on some of the more common cybersecurity attacks and what can be done to help prevent a breach in the future.

Annual Reports > Debt, Reporting

June 2016 –

This report provides an analysis of annual financial data reported to the Office of the State Comptroller and the Authorities Budget Office by IDAs for fiscal year 2014, discusses regional impacts and highlights a new law championed by Comptroller DiNapoli, which increases transparency in IDA operations.

Local Government Management Guides > Financial Condition

June 2016 –

This guide is designed to help you analyze the financial condition of your local government or school district.

Local Government Management Guides > Budgeting, Cash Disbursements, Cash Receipts, Debt, Payroll/Employee Benefits, Revenues/Cash Management

May 2016 –

This guide is a resource for those governing bodies and officials who are responsible for preparing, developing, and monitoring the annual budget. The following is an overview of the information contained in this guide: • Who is Responsible? • Information Used to Prepare the Budget • Budget Preparation Process • Putting the Tentative Budget Together • Implementing the Budget • Monitoring the Budget

Local Government Management Guides > General Oversight, Inventories

May 2016 –

This guide will address a number of practices that local officials can use to receive the most value from their government’s investment in capital assets.

Research Reports > Reporting

April 2016 –

This brief focuses on prolonged foreclosure activity in New York State and the challenges facing local governments and communities in the wake of the foreclosure crisis.

Research Reports > Budgeting, Reporting, Revenues/Cash Management

March 2016 –

This report examines the recent history of school aid, highlighting the opportunities and challenges presented by this year’s budget. The first section looks at aid from the school district perspective, followed by a discussion in the context of New York’s overall budget.

Research Reports > Sales Tax

February 2016 –

Total local sales tax collections in New York State grew by $552 million, or 3.6 percent, from 2014 to 2015 This was stronger than the 3.0 percent increase in the prior year. New York City sales tax collections grew by 7.3 percent, or $487 million, about half of which was due to an adjustment for incorrect payments in previous years. Excluding New York City, growth in local sales tax collections was 0.7 percent, with 30 of 57 counties outside of New York City having declines in their 2015 sales tax collections.

Annual Reports > Financial Condition, Fiscal Stress, Reporting, Revenues/Cash Management, Sales Tax

February 2016 –

The 2015 Annual Report on New York State’s local governments describes the revenue and expenditure trends affecting our counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts, and highlights some of the work the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) is doing in the areas of policy research, auditing and training.

Accounting Notices and Bulletins > Revenues/Cash Management

February 2016 –

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide guidance related to the accounting for moneys received by County governments from the Compassionate Care Act. These revenues are derived from an excise tax on the gross receipts from the sale of medical marihuana.

Research Reports > Fiscal Stress

January 2016 –

Three Years of School District Fiscal Stress Results: School Years 2012-13 to 2014-15 01/28/2016 - For school year 2014-15, OSC identified 82 school districts as experiencing some degree of fiscal stress: eight were in significant fiscal stress, 24 in moderate fiscal stress and 50 were susceptible to fiscal stress. The share of school districts experiencing fiscal stress has remained fairly stable over time. The tax cap continues to constrain districts’ ability to increase their property tax levies; for 2016-17 the growth factor will be 0.12 percent. 

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.