Local Government Publications

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

Research Reports > Sales Tax

July 2015 –

In the first half of 2015, total local sales tax collections in New York State grew by only about half of the 3.0 percent growth seen in all of 2014 and nearly two thirds less than the 4.2 percent average annual growth experienced over the previous 15 years. Sales tax revenue declined in half of the regions in the State, with the sharpest decline being in the North Country, which saw a 2.5 percent drop. | [read county-by-county data - pdf]

Research Reports > Reporting

June 2015 –

In 2015, the number of counties exceeding the tax cap decreased substantially and only six counties exceeded the cap—a decrease of 54 percent from 2014. Among the counties that stayed within the tax levy limit in 2015, many have levied right up to the limit. Of these 51 counties, 23 levied taxes that amounted to 99 percent or more of their allowable tax levy limit. This may be due in part to the newly enacted Property Tax Freeze Credit. | [County Tax Cap Data as of April 30, 2015 - Excel]

Research Reports > Debt, Fiscal Stress

June 2015 –

Fiscal Stress Monitoring System (FSMS) has five categories of indicators: fund balance, liquidity, short-term debt, operating deficits, and fixed costs. These indicators contribute to a local government’s final classification of Significant Stress, Moderate Stress, Susceptible to Stress or No Designation.

Annual Reports > Debt, Reporting

May 2015 –

IDAs are important for economic development in the State, but local officials need to improve their scrutiny over projects so that taxpayers know if their community is receiving promised jobs and economic benefits. Recent audits have found deficiencies in IDA processes for approving and monitoring projects, as well as for recouping benefits from projects that have failed to meet their goals.

Accounting Notices and Bulletins > Reporting

May 2015 –

This bulletin provides updated information on pension accounting and reporting, superseding earlier bulletins issued by the Office of the State Comptroller for local government employers in New York State. All applicable previous guidance has been incorporated into this bulletin, as well as corrections to past instructions for expenditure and liability recognition of pension costs in governmental funds.
Updated May 2015 (Originally Issued September 2011)

Research Reports > Debt, Reporting, Revenues/Cash Management

April 2015 –

The State has approximately 639 local authorities operating outside of New York City. These authorities generally operate without many of the constraints and controls over day-to-day operations required of municipal governments. OSC audits have helped to shine a light on questionable practices from board member compensation to the selection and results of economic development projects. OSC continues to advocate for express audit authority over LDCs and other not-for-profit local authorities, better reporting requirements for all local authorities and legislation to achieve more transparent results. 

Research Reports > Revenues/Cash Management, Sales Tax

March 2015 –

The sales tax generates 8 percent of all local government revenues in New York State and 27 percent of county revenues. This report examines the general sales and use tax imposed for local governments in the State. It covers the sales tax rates in counties and cities, and trends in sales tax revenues for local governments. It also includes an up-to-date county-level summary of sales tax sharing arrangements and discusses recent activity in the taxation of Internet sales.

Research Reports > Budgeting, Fiscal Stress, Revenues/Cash Management

February 2015 –

The number of school districts overriding the tax cap has declined each year. In general, school districts’ decisions to override the tax cap were based, at least in part, on necessity. When examining the relationship between fiscal stress and tax cap overrides, we found that fiscally stressed school districts were nearly three times more likely to override the tax cap when compared to school districts that were not designated as stressed. [2013-2015 Tax Cap Data - Excel]

Research Reports > Sales Tax

February 2015 –

Local sales tax growth was slower in 2014 than in any year since the 2008-2009 recession, in part due to slow growth in the first quarter of the year. Long Island collections declined, some upstate counties had strong growth due to increased sales tax rates, and New York City's growth was relatively strong. | [read county-by-county data - pdf]

Research Reports > Fiscal Stress

January 2015 –

The districts experiencing fiscal stress are spread across the State. One indicator in particular—the operating deficit—saw substantial changes in the FSMS points assigned compared to the previous year: 19 percent received a higher FSMS score on this indicator, while 28 percent scored lower. Changes in scores for this indicator contributed to changes in districts’ overall levels of fiscal stress.

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

January 2015 –

This report provides you with a summary of trends in local government revenues and spending. It also offers the opportunity to reflect upon major local policy developments that occurred in 2014, as well as to highlight the important work that we have done and will continue to do here at the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC).

Research Reports > Fiscal Stress

September 2014 –

Overall, 35 entities were classified as being in some level of stress, with 10 designated as being in significant fiscal stress, 8 in moderate fiscal stress and 17 susceptible to fiscal stress.

Research Reports > Debt, General Oversight, Reporting

September 2014 –

This follow-up report expands the analysis of the previous report; updating annual local government financial data and contrasting that to the associated local financial infrastructure needs in the most recent New York State studies. It also draws upon a new series of interviews with local officials to assess how they are working to provide the best infrastructure possible to their residents.

Local Government Management Guides > General Oversight, Reporting

August 2014 –

To keep public funds safe, officials and cash managers need to understand the requirements they must comply with and the investment limitations and safeguards required of local government investments and deposits. This guide includes the following sections about the fundamentals of investing and protecting local government funds in New York State: • Prudence in Investments • Actively Monitor Cash Flow • Investment of Public Funds • Protection of Deposits and Investments • Investment Policy • Other Topics

Research Reports > Debt, Fiscal Stress

July 2014 –

Like many other cities, Glens Falls has struggled in recent years to maintain services, avoid large tax increases and balance budgets. The City’s high debt service costs for infrastructure expenditures as well as its subsidization of the Civic Center continue to be a burden. By 2012, Glens Falls had drawn down its available general fund balance to $0.6 million, or 3.7 of percent of expenditures.

Research Reports > Sales Tax

July 2014 –

Although total local sales tax collections have grown each quarter since the end of the 2008-2009 recession, the rate of this growth has shown a downward overall trend. [read county-by-city data - pdf]

Local Government Management Guides > Ethics, Purchasing

July 2014 –

This guide provides an overview of the following procurement topics: • Who is Responsible ? • Planning and Promotion • Seeking Competition • E-Procurement • Cooperative Purchasing • Piggybacking on Certain Government Contracts • Procurement Policies and Procedures • Professional Services • Preferred Sources • Environmentally Responsible Purchasing • Ethics and Conflicts of Interest.

Research Reports > Debt, Fiscal Stress

June 2014 –

Albany had no available general fund balance between 2002 and 2006. Subsequently, the City’s available balance grew to a high of $19.8 million in 2008 before declining in the wake of the 2007-09 recession. Standard and Poor’s Rating Services rates the City of Albany’s general obligation debt at AA-, at the low end of its second-highest rating category. The City has formally applied to the Governor’s Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments for assistance and has been accepted by the Board.

Research Reports > Debt, Fiscal Stress

May 2014 –

Between 2007 and 2012, the City’s available fund balance increased by 82 percent, from $3.8 million to $7.0 million in 2012. In 2012, Moody’s warned that rising employee benefit costs could put upward pressure on expenditures. Also, the State cap on growth in the property tax levy could affect the City’s ability to continue to balance its budget by increasing the property tax.

Annual Reports > Debt, Reporting

May 2014 –

Often, the required reports that industrial development agencies (IDAs) submit to OSC and other agencies are incomplete and inconsistent. Recent audits by OSC have found a lack of documented cost-benefit analysis, lack of recapture clauses in many project agreements and insufficient tracking of projects and their incentives.