Local Government Publications

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

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.

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight, Utilities

January 2016 –

Establishing an effective water accounting system is a necessary first step in controlling water losses and reducing water system costs.

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established an industry goal of 10 percent for unaccounted water system losses. A water accounting system helps to track water throughout the system and identify areas that may need attention, particularly large volumes of unaccounted-for water.

Cost-Saving Ideas > General Oversight

January 2016 –

The audit committee assists and advises the board on issues relating to the district’s internal and external audits.

Cost-Saving Ideas > Claims Auditing/Credit Cards

January 2016 –

When employees need to make small one-time purchases, it is often more convenient for them to pay with a credit card than to fill out a procurement request form and wait for it to be approved. This also saves time and energy for procurement staff.

The cost of this convenience is the heightened risk of inappropriate spending, such as wasteful or personal purchases. To ensure that credit cards are used only for approved and necessary expenses, local governments must have both a credit card policy and a system of internal controls in place.

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).

Guidance > General Oversight, Reporting

January 2016 –

This booklet has been prepared to familiarize you with the audit process and provide insight into the key stages of its development, from the earliest stages to the final report. It describes what auditors look for and their professional auditing standards. The booklet is intended only to highlight some of the significant elements of the audit.

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.

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.

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)