Publications and Research Reports

Featured Publications


Cover Image for Top Four Featured Publication Reports page

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.

Cover of 2019 Annual Report on Local Governments

This report focuses on local fiscal years ending (FYE) in 2018, the latest data available for all classes of local government together, and describes some of the factors driving changes in local revenues, expenditures and indebtedness over time.

Cover of Local Sales Tax Growth Strong 1st Qtr 2020 Prior to Global Pandemic

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.

Municipalities: Fiscal Year 2019 Results; Fiscal Year 2020 Risks

This snapshot highlights the results for counties, cities, towns and villages that reported for local fiscal years ending (FYE) 2019.

Title Description Issued Topic
Fiscal Stress Monitoring System - Municipalities: Fiscal Year 2019 Results; Fiscal Year 2020 Risks

This snapshot highlights the results for counties, cities, towns and villages that reported for local fiscal years ending (FYE) 2019. These scores, therefore, provide a baseline for local government fiscal preparedness in the period just prior to the pandemic. To provide additional context for these results, this snapshot also examines some of the biggest local government fiscal stress risk factors arising from the COVID-19 crisis.

Research Report
Local Sales Tax Collections Down 7.8 Percent in August

Local government sales tax revenue declined by 7.8 percent, or $111 million, in August compared to the same month last year. This drop in revenue is similar to the overall decline in July of 8.2 percent, though much less extreme than the early months of the pandemic when sales tax collections plummeted by double digits. All but two counties in the state experienced decreases in overall collections for August, and New York City’s collections dropped by 7.1 percent. | Regional Table [.xlsx]

Research Report
New Legislation Providing Financial and Budgetary Flexibility to Local Governments and School Districts

The purpose of this Legislation is to relieve some of the financial stress experienced by local governments and school districts as a result of the State Disaster Emergency declared pursuant to Executive Order 202 of 2020 (State Disaster Emergency).

Accounting
Local Sales Tax Collections Drop 8.2 Percent in July

Sales tax collections for local governments in July totaled $1.3 billion, or $116 million less than in July 2019. Although the month’s collections are down compared with last year, the decline is less steep than at any time since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect sales tax collections. Nearly every county in every region of the state saw decreases, and New York City experienced a 7.3 percent decline. | Regional Table [.xlsx]

Research Report
Second Quarter Local Sales Tax Collections Down Significantly; June Collections Improve for Most Regions

Sales tax revenue for local governments in the second quarter of 2020 totaled $3.3 billion, a decline of $1.2 billion compared to the same period last year. The second quarter drop came after a 4.6 percent increase in first quarter collections, the strength of which was partly due to better collection of taxes on internet sales from small, out-of-state merchants. However, within the second quarter, collections for the month of June showed some improvement in most regions with many upstate counties experiencing year-over-year growth. | Monthly and Quarterly Local Sales Tax Collections by Region [.xlsx]

Research Report
Performance of Industrial Development Agencies in New York State - 2020 Annual Report

The report summarizes most recently completed data (fiscal year ending 2018) found in these annual reports. In addition to reviewing IDA data, the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) provides training to IDA officials on various topics, including recent legislative reforms and how to improve their compliance with reporting requirements. | Interactive Map

Research Report
Under Pressure: Local Government Revenue Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Our State’s local governments are being tested on many fronts as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This report will examine some of the major risks to these revenue sources, the dependence of local governments on each, and the effects of federal government actions to help keep local governments afloat thus far.

Research Report
Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Information

This guidance document discusses the importance of proper fiscal oversight by local and school district officials during these unprecedented times. It also identifies various revenues available under the CARES Act to local governments and school districts in New York State. Lastly, it addresses how CARES Act revenues and pandemic-related expenditures should be accounted for by local government and school district officials.
Updated July 2020 (Originally Issued June 2020)

Accounting
Local Sales Tax Collection Drops Over 32 Percent in May

Sales tax revenue for local governments in May totaled $918 million, or $437 million less than 2019. The sharp decline in revenues was widespread around the state, ranging from a drop of 19.5 percent in Westchester County to a 41.5 percent decline in Tioga County. Nearly every county in every region of the state saw a large drop in overall collections. New York City experienced a 31.9 percent decline, amounting to $196 million in lost revenues for a single month.

Research Report
Accounting and Financial Reporting for Fiduciary Activities as Required by GASB Statement 84

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide guidance on identifying fiduciary activities for accounting and financial reporting purposes and how local governments and school districts will need to account for and report these activities in the Annual Update Document (AUD) and the ST-3.
Updated June 2020 (Originally Issued March 2020)

Accounting
Local Sales Tax Collections Declined 24.4 Percent in April, after COVID-19 Shutdown

Plummeting sales tax collections were widespread, leaving counties, cities and some other local governments short by about $327 million compared to last year. Although the first quarter of 2020 was relatively strong, March sales tax collections had already begun to show the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown–a decrease of 3.7 percent statewide with the largest declines downstate. The April figures show shrinking revenues for local governments throughout the state.

Research Report
Local Sales Tax Growth Strong in First Quarter of 2020 Prior to Global Pandemic

New York State local sales tax collections in the first quarter (January-March) of 2020 totaled $4.4 billion. This was an increase of 4.6 percent over the same period last year, mostly reflecting sales made before the statewide implementation of business and office closures and social distancing policies in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research Report
Accounting for Medicaid Expenditures

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide updated guidance to counties on accounting for Medicaid expenditures. This bulletin supersedes our November 2005 accounting bulletin entitled Medicaid Cap Update.

Accounting
Special Report Update: Education Revenues and Expenditures With a Highlight on Special Education For Regions Outside New York City

New York’s school districts are responsible for one of the most important functions of government – educating children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Each district must navigate a complex set of State rules and local needs and determine how to fund its programs using a mix of local property taxes and State and federal aid sources. This report provides regional analysis of certain financial and demographic data for New York’s school districts outside of New York City. It presents this information to identify the levels and recent trends in revenue, expenditures, district wealth, student characteristics and outcomes, and special education services that could impact district budgets. | School District Level Data [xlsx]

Research Report
Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions as Required by GASB 68 and Updated by GASB 82

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)

Accounting
A Grade of Incomplete: Persistent Non-Filers of Legally Required Local Government Reports

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.

Research Report
Annual Report on Local Governments 2019

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

Annual Report
Growth in Local Sales Tax Collections Remains Strong in 2019 Due to Robust Second Half

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.

Research Report
Account Code for Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) -Related Payments

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)

Accounting
Fiscal Stress in School Districts: Common Themes for School Year 2018-19

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.

Research Report
Local Government Debt Trends and Practices in New York State

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.

Research Report
Local Sales Tax Collections Growth Improves in Third Quarter of 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.

Research Report
Property Taxes in New York State

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. 

Research Report
Ransomware

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.

Local Government Management Guide
Information Technology Contingency Planning

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.

Local Government Management Guide
Wireless Technology and Security

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.

Local Government Management Guide
Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity

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.

Local Government Management Guide
Fiscal Stress Monitoring System Results for Municipalities: Common Themes for Fiscal Year 2018

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. 

Research Report
Smart Solutions Across the State: Advanced Technology in Local Governments

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.

Research Report
Capital Projects Fund

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].

Local Government Management Guide
Hitting the Limit: The Constitutional Tax Limit and its Implications for Local Governments

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.

Research Report
New York State School Safety: A Statewide and Regional Review

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.

Research Report
Accounting and Reporting Manual for School Districts

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.

Accounting
Growth in Local Sales Tax Collections Slows in the First Half of 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.

Research Report
Account Codes for ERS & TRS Reserve Contributions

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide updated account code guidance for school districts recording contributions to the New York State and Local Employee Retirement System (ERS) and to the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS).

Accounting
Annual Performance Report on New York State's Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2017

In 2017, the State’s 109 active Industrial Development Agencies reported projects valued at $98.1 billion, with over $750 million in net annual tax exemptions and $8.0 billion in total debt outstanding, including conduit and other debt. They supported 4,385 projects that produced a net total of 198,522 jobs gained since their inception through 2017. | Interactive Map

Research Report
Long Island Region Economic Snapshot

Broadly speaking, Long Island residents enjoy a high quality of life, reflected in high median incomes, relatively low unemployment and crime rates, strong public schools, numerous higher education opportunities and many cultural and natural recreational activities. However, the region's population and economic growth comes with challenges, such as traffic congestion and high property taxes.

Research Report
Foreclosure Update: Signs of Progress

Statewide, foreclosure filings fell by 46 percent between 2013 and 2018. Foreclosure rates are highest in the Long Island and the Mid- Hudson regions. Only four counties— Clinton, Putnam, Rockland, and Suffolk— have a foreclosure rate over 1 percent. Other stakeholders are pursuing efforts to reduce harm to local governments and communities caused by “zombie properties.”

Research Report
Information Technology Governance

The following guidance is intended to make the oversight of information technology less daunting by providing a template for understanding and strengthening controls over IT.

Local Government Management Guide
Sales Tax Growth Strengthens for a Third Year: 2018 Collections Up 5.3 Percent

Local sales tax collections in New York State were $17.5 billion in 2018, a 5.3 percent increase over the previous calendar year and the third consecutive year that growth in collections improved. Certain economic factors may be contributing to this improvement--more than 62,000 additional New York residents were employed in 2018, total wages for the first two quarters increased by nearly 5.7 percent compared to the same period in the prior year, consumer confidence has remained high and consumer spending has been mostly steady throughout the year.

Research Report
Annual Report on Local Governments 2018

The 2018 Annual Report on Local Governments 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.

Annual Report
Fiscal Stress in School Districts Common Themes for School Year 2017-18

This report summarizes results of school district scores for the 2017-18 school fiscal year (SY) and compares results to SY 2016- 17.

Research Report
Justice Court Fund: Handbook for Town and Village Justices and Court Clerks

The handbook for Town and Village Justices and Court Clerks is to assist in fulfilling the financial reporting requirements of the Town and Village courts. This publication may be requested in hardcopy from the Justice Court Fund by calling 518-473-6438 or 518-473-6830.

Guidance
Local Governments and the Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Business

Local governments or public authorities own 20 of the State’s 27 municipal solid waste landfills, the type of landfills that take in most of what we typically think of as “garbage”—residential, commercial and institutional waste. This report examines the role of local governments in solid waste management, with particular attention to the issues they confront as municipal solid waste landfill owners.

Research Report
Fiscal Stress Monitoring System Results for Municipalities: Common Themes for Fiscal Year 2017

The Fiscal Stress Monitoring System (FSMS) annually assesses fiscal stress in local governments and school districts. This report summarizes the fiscal and environmental results of all 1,589 New York counties, cities, towns and villages for their fiscal years ending in 2017.

Research Report
First Half of 2018: Highest Growth in Local Sales Tax Collections in Almost Eight Years

Local sales tax collections in New York State for the first half of 2018 were $8.5 billion, a 6.0 percent increase over the same period last year. This was the highest half-year increase since 2010, growing in every region of the State compared to the first half of 2017. Factors that may have influenced this include the lowest unemployment rate in over a decade, steady wage growth in the first half of 2018 and high consumer confidence.

Research Report
Accounting and Financial Reporting for Other Postemployment Benefits as Required by GASB Statement 75

This bulletin provides information regarding the accounting treatment for other post-employment benefits (OPEB) and guidance on how local governments and school districts can comply with the new standards in the Annual Update Document (AUD) and ST-3.

Accounting
Professional Service Procurement: Considerations for Local Officials

A number of laws govern the procurement of goods and services. Seeking competition guards against favoritism, extravagance, fraud and corruption. However, there is a well-established exception to these competitive bidding requirements for professional services, such as those rendered by attorneys, engineers or accountants, where cost is only one element that a responsible local official would want to consider. This report discusses some categories of professional services, the costs associated with these services and recent audit findings by OSC about local procurement policies and their implementation. The report also highlights best practices that local governments and school districts can follow that may reduce costs. 

Research Report
Mohawk Valley Region Economic Profile

The Mohawk Valley Region’s dominant economic center is the Utica-Rome metropolitan area. Unemployment and child poverty rates are higher in the Region than for the State as a whole, while household income is below the State median. While the Region has lost industries and employers over the past couple of decades, there has recently been a modest increase in new manufacturing jobs. Also, the City of Utica has harnessed its surplus of affordable housing by reaching out to refugees to come and establish families and businesses in the area.

Research Report
How to Apply for Exclusion of Sewer Debt from Municipal Debt Limits

This booklet contains the suggested application and legal notice form for an exclusion of certain sewer debt from a municipality’s Constitutional debt limit.

Guidance
GASB 75 & OPEB Frequently Asked Questions

Read the Frequently Asked Questions on GASB 75 & OPEB.

Accounting
Dam Infrastructure: Understanding and Managing the Risks

New York State has over 5,000 functioning dams, 861 of which are owned or co-owned by local governments. Local officials need to manage this infrastructure effectively, not only to preserve important capital assets, but also because it is a necessary investment in public safety. This report focuses on those dams that would pose the greatest risks in case of failure and therefore warrant the most careful monitoring and management. The report also discusses steps local officials and residents can take to manage those risks. | Interactive Map

Research Report
Annual Performance Report on New York State’s Industrial Development Agencies Fiscal Year Ending 2016

In 2016, the State’s 109 active Industrial Development Agencies reported projects valued at $95.6 billion, with nearly $715 million in net annual tax exemptions and $10.0 billion in total debt outstanding, including conduit and other debt. They supported 4,451 projects that had created 208,707 jobs from their inception through 2016. | Interactive Map

Research Report
A Partially Treated Problem: Overflows From Combined Sewers

Most large urban areas in New York State are served by municipal sewer systems, many of which commingle stormwater with the wastewater from homes and businesses in combined sewer systems. The flows from combined sewers can overwhelm treatment systems and have a harmful impact on the environment. This report, as part of the Office of the State Comptroller’s infrastructure series, describes the current scale of the problem in the State and some of the steps being taken to remediate it. 

Research Report
Property Tax Exemptions

Property tax exemptions can be a valuable tool to improve the affordability of housing for certain populations, fuel economic growth or encourage the adoption of energy-smart technologies. This report examines the amount and variety of property tax exemptions in New York State outside of New York City. It also looks at the specific points in the process where local governments can exercise some discretion, including the types of exemptions offered, how to ensure that exemptions are properly awarded and the use of alternative methods for raising revenue.

Research Report
Local Sales Tax Growth in 2017 Highest in Four Years

Local sales tax collections for calendar year 2017 totaled $16.6 billion, an increase of $620 million, or 3.9 percent, from the previous year. This marks the highest year-over-year growth since 2013. 

Research Report
Fiscal Stress in School Districts Common Themes for School Year 2016-17

The Office of the New York State Comptroller’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System (FSMS) measures fiscal stress in school districts each year. This report summarizes results of school district scores for the 2016-17 school fiscal year, the fifth annual release of FSMS scores.

Research Report
Annual Report on Local Governments 2017

This 2017 Annual Report on Local Governments provides a summary analysis of the financial state of the local governments outside of New York City for local fiscal years ending in 2016.

Annual Report
Accounting and Reporting Manual for Fire Districts

The Accounting and Reporting Manual for Fire Districts is a comprehensive guide for fire districts and others interested in accounting and financial reporting by fire districts in New York State. The manual provides an overview of accounting and financial reporting principles to be used by fire districts to account and report their financial activities.

Accounting
Information for Town Officials

A review of the basic duties of a town supervisor with statutory references designed to assist the newly elected supervisor in becoming familiar with the structure of town government and the supervisor's role in it. This is also a publication useful to town board members and other town officials. 

Guidance
North Country Region Economic Profile

This report highlights the North Country region's geography, demographics, municipalities, economy and labor markets, and includes a discussion about what the future may hold for the region.

Research Report
Oversight and Monitoring of Municipal Water Systems

This report summarizes common findings from audits of 161 local government and 7 public authority water systems from January 2012 through May 2017. These audits identify deficiencies in financial management, including consistent overestimation of water revenues, incorrect billing, improper transfer of money between water and other funds, and insufficient internal controls and long-term planning. Many audits have also found other problems in water system operations, including significant losses as water travels from its sources to its users.

Research Report
Local Bridges by the Numbers

Bridges are structures of chronic concern, both because of the degree to which we rely on them and the risks they pose should they fail. This report offers a quick look at New York’s bridges, including those in New York City. In 2016, 11 percent of all New York bridges were structurally deficient, according to federal standards. Bridges owned by New York’s local governments and authorities are more likely than State-owned bridges to be structurally deficient (12.8 percent compared to 9.0 percent). | Interactive Data

Research Report
Reporting Tax Abatements as Required by GASB Statement No. 77

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide information to local governments and school districts on the financial statement reporting requirements for tax abatements, as required by Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 77, Tax Abatement Disclosures. This bulletin also identifies several programs in New York that meet GASB’s tax abatement definition.

Accounting
Fiscal Stress Monitoring System Results for Municipalities: Four Year Review, 2013 - 2016

The Fiscal Stress Monitoring System (FSMS) annually assesses fiscal stress in local governments and school districts. This report examines and summarizes notable trends in the fiscal scores of all 1,595 New York counties, cities, towns and villages regardless of their fiscal year end dates, for the period 2013 through 2016. 

Research Report
Finger Lakes Region Economic Profile

This report highlights the Finger Lakes region’s geography, demographics, municipalities, economy and labor markets, and includes a discussion about what the future may hold for the region.

Research Report
First Half of 2017: Local Sales Tax Growth Ticks Up Statewide

For the first half of calendar year 2017, local sales tax collections were $8.0 billion, a 3.3 percent increase over the same period last year. This is a slight improvement over the last several half-year periods. Economic factors supporting these results include continued low unemployment and high consumer confidence. Sales taxes were also boosted by growth in collections from sales of motor fuels.

Research Report
The Impact of Federal Aid on New York’s Local Governments

Federal aid is a critical component of local government revenues. Proposed changes to federal education policy, expanded military spending and the Executive Order declaring "sanctuary jurisdictions" ineligible for some federal grants could also affect New York's local governments. This report and the accompanying interactive data use information reported by local governments to help local officials and citizens understand how they could be affected by such changes. | Interactive Data

Research Report
Accounting for Various Gaming Revenues

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide updated guidance to local governments and school districts on the accounting for various gaming revenues. This bulletin addresses the following:

  • Moneys received or distributed as a result of Indian Gaming Compact or Settlement Agreement; and
  • Casino licensing fees and various gaming revenues as a result of the Upstate New York Gaming and Economic Development Act of 2013.

Updated July 2017 (Originally Issued February 2017)

Accounting
Accounting for Retained Percentages

This bulletin provides updated guidance related to the accounting for retained percentages (retainage), including updates to previous accounting entries based on the current standards for recognition and measurement of certain liabilities.
Updated May 2017 (Originally Issued October 2014)

Accounting
Fire Protection in New York State: How Is It Provided in Your Community?

The system for providing fire protection services throughout New York State can be surprisingly complex. This report will provide an overview of the organization, administration, membership benefits, and common OSC audit findings for fire protection entities.

Research Report
Annual Performance Report on New York State’s Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2015

In 2015, the State’s 109 active Industrial Development Agencies reported projects valued at $88.7 billion, with nearly $700 million in net annual tax exemptions and $11.4 billion in total debt outstanding, including conduit and other debt. They supported 4,484 projects that had created 224,734 jobs from their inception through 2015. Interactive Map

Research Report
Education in New York Nine Regional Snapshots Outside New York City

New York State requires school districts to report extensive data on their finances, student demographics and outcomes, teachers, school facilities, school climate and other factors. This report offers a regional perspective on some of this data. Looking at the results this way highlights geographic variation in these indicators.  Interactive Map | Technical Appendix [pdf]

Research Report
Drinking Water Systems in New York The Challenges of Aging Infrastructure

An overview of the different ways in which public water supplies are provided, regulated and funded in New York State. The report addresses specific concerns facing local governments including funding trends, capital planning practices and the emerging risk areas of contamination and security.

Research Report
2016 Local Sales Tax Collections

While total local sales tax collections in New York State grew by only 0.7 percent in 2016, the modest increase was largely due to a multiyear correction that inflated New York City's 2015 collections. After adjusting for this correction, total local growth was about $357 million over the prior year, or about 2.3 percent.

Research Report
Fiscal Stress Monitoring System Results for School Districts: Four-Year Review

The Fiscal Stress Monitoring System (FSMS) annually assesses fiscal stress in local governments and school districts. This is the fourth annual FSMS scoring of school districts, showing results for the four school years through 2015-16.

Research Report
Annual Report on Local Governments 2016

This Annual Report seeks to highlight some of the year’s important policy developments and trends for local governments.

Annual Report
Cost-Saving Ideas: Monitoring Health Insurance Premiums for Retirees

In many local governments and school districts, employees have the option to receive health insurance coverage after retirement. Among other things, the retirees may be:

  • allowed a continuation of coverage for surviving spouses or certain other eligible persons for a period of time after the eligible retiree dies.
  • required to contribute to the health insurance coverage costs.
  • offered subsidized health insurance costs by allowing the retiree to buy coverage at the group rate. 1

Containing health insurance costs should be a priority for local governments and school districts. One way to reduce health insurance costs is to pay premiums only for eligible retirees or their surviving spouses and dependents.

An audit of 20 school districts revealed ten school districts who collectively paid $239,000 in health insurance benefits for deceased or ineligible retirees.

Cost Saving Ideas
Multiyear Financial Planning

This guide is intended to help local governments create an effective multiyear planning process that helps identify and manage potential fiscal difficulties before crises emerge. Developed with input and assistance from local officials across the State, this handbook provides general guidelines for the development of a financial planning process, including suggestions for how to: • Make good long-term revenue and expenditure projections; • Measure expected benefits from proposed local actions; and • Draw those projections together in a useful document for local decision-makers and other audiences.

Local Government Management Guide
Cost-Saving Ideas: Reviewing Your Revenue Collection Process

Improving your local government's receipt collection system may get revenue into its bank account more quickly.

Start by evaluating the costs and benefits of various revenue collection alternatives, using measures such as:

  • How long does it take to process a tax or fee payment?
  • How many total collections are being processed?
  • What is the cost per transaction?
  • How convenient is the process for residents?

By becoming more efficient, your local government can possibly increase collections, lower processing costs and increase interest earnings.

Cost Saving Ideas
Cost-Saving Ideas: Justice Court Consolidation in Villages and Towns

For some towns and villages, maintaining a justice court may pose administrative and financial challenges. Justice courts hear civil, criminal, misdemeanor and traffic cases and are responsible for imposing and collecting a wide range of fines, surcharges and civil fees. Because the financing of justice courts is a local responsibility, there is growing interest by citizens and local governments in exploring consolidation of justice courts where practicable.

In these cases, towns and villages should consider consolidating their justice courts. Benefits include:

  • maximizing services by pooling resources;
  • streamlining the court system by centralizing services; and
  • providing more qualified judges through increased competition.

This guide provides a step-by-step breakdown of the process and outlines some of the relevant issues.

Cost Saving Ideas
Central New York Region - Economic Profile

This report highlights the Central New York region’s geography, demographics, municipalities, economy and labor markets, and includes a discussion about what the future may hold for the region.

Research Report
Land Banks Enter the Fight Against Blight

This report explains what land banks are, discusses how they can help local governments cope with high concentrations of vacant and abandoned properties and identifies factors that could determine their long-term success. 

Research Report
Fiscal Stress Monitoring System Manual

This manual provides a basic discussion about the System while accompanying technical appendices provide details about the methodology OSC staff utilize in performing the assessments.

Guidance
Fiscal Stress Monitoring System Results for Municipalities: Three-Year Review

This report examines and summarizes notable trends in the fiscal scores of all New York counties, cities, towns and villages regardless of their fiscal year end dates, for the period 2013 to 2015.

Research Report
Conflicts of Interest Poster

New York State General Municipal Law, Sections 800–809: Conflicts of Interest of Municipal Officers and Employees

Guidance
Local Sales Tax Collections Slow in First Half of 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.

Research Report
Mid-Hudson Region - Economic Profile

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.

Research Report
New “Piggybacking” Law - Exception to Competitive Bidding

Procurements: Guidelines for the "Piggybacking" Exception to Competitive Bidding under General Municipal Law § 103(16)

Guidance
Protecting Sensitive Data and Other Local Government Assets: A Non-Technical Cybersecurity Guide for Local Leaders

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.

Research Report
Annual Performance Report on New York State's Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2014

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.

Research Report
Understanding the Budget Process

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 Guide
Capital Assets

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.

Local Government Management Guide
Foreclosure Update From a Local Government Perspective

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 Report
New York State School Aid: Two Perspectives

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 Report
Local Sales Tax Collections Improve in 2015

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.

Research Report
Annual Report on Local Governments 2015

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.

Annual Report
Account Code for Compassionate Care Act Revenues – Sale of Medical Marihuana

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.

Accounting
Three Years of School District Fiscal Stress Results: School Years 2012-13 to 2014-15

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. 

Research Report
Cost-Saving Ideas: Capital Planning for Local Governments and School Districts

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
Cost-Saving Ideas: Electronic Banking

Local governments and school districts use electronic banking as a faster, easier and less expensive alternative to paper transactions.

Cost Saving Ideas
Cost-Saving Ideas: School District Auditing – External Auditor

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
Cost-Saving Ideas: Legal Requirements

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

Cost Saving Ideas
Cost-Saving Ideas: Capital and Repair Reserve Funds for Town or County Water and Sewer Districts

When preparing your annual operating budget for a water or sewer district, set aside moneys in a capital or repair reserve fund to be used for costs for future capital projects or certain repairs. Planning today and saving incrementally can help reduce the financial impact of such expenses on your annual budget.

Establishing and funding allowable reserve funds for a specific intended purpose can smooth out spikes in both the annual budget and the real property tax levy. Saving for future capital needs can also reduce or eliminate interest and debt issuance costs.

Cost Saving Ideas
Cost-Saving Ideas: Using State Contracts to Acquire Goods or Services

In the procurement process, your goal is to obtain goods and services that are both high in quality and low in cost. However, achieving this goal can take considerable time and effort through research, solicitation and negotiation. And it may not always result in the savings you were looking for.

As an easy alternative, you can purchase goods and services under an existing State contract. This allows you to capitalize on the State's buying power and expertise, which may result in lower prices and better quality goods and services.

Many of the State contracts provide necessities for any local government or school district, such as awards for road salt and fuels, vehicles and heavy equipment, food and furniture, computer hardware and software, and much more.

Cost Saving Ideas
Cost-Saving Ideas: Managing Your Travel and Conference Expenses

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
Cost-Saving Ideas: Managing Workers' Compensation Costs

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
Cost-Saving Ideas: Cash Management for Local Governments

Providing for sound cash management assures that investments are optimized for the best possible return for taxpayers.

Cost Saving Ideas
Cost-Saving Ideas: Containing Employee Health Insurance Costs

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

Cost Saving Ideas
Cost-Saving Ideas: Establishing an Effective Fleet Management System

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
Cost-Saving Ideas: School District Auditing – Internal Auditor

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
Cost-Saving Ideas: Overtime Planning and Management

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
Understanding the Audit Process

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.

Guidance
Cost-Saving Ideas: Minimizing Unemployment Insurance Costs

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
Cost-Saving Ideas: Evaluating Solid Waste Collection Options

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
Cost-Saving Ideas: School District Auditing – Audit Committee

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

Cost Saving Ideas
Cost-Saving Ideas: Credit Card Accountability - Minimizing the Risk of Error, Misuse and Fraud

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
Cost-Saving Ideas: How to Reduce Energy Costs

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
Cost-Saving Ideas: School District Auditing - Roles, Responsibilities and Resources

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
Cost-Saving Ideas: Evaluate the Efficiency of Your Water Delivery System

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
Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program

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
NYS Emergency Services Revolving Loan Account

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
Installment Purchase Contracts

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)

Accounting
Are Off-Track Betting Corporations Nearing the Finish Line?

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 Report
Three Years of the Fiscal Stress Monitoring System - Results for Municipalities with Fiscal Years Ending on December 31, 2014

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 Report
The Foreclosure Predicament Persists

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 Report
Tax Cap Tightens As Inflation Drops: Local Governments Will Need to Prepare for Little or No Levy Growth

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 Report
Local Sales Tax Collection Growth Slows Significantly in First Half of 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 Report
County Tax Cap Recap: Fewer Counties Exceeding Levy Limits

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 Report
Fiscal Stress Close-Up Indicator Report

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.

Research Report
Annual Performance Report on New York State's Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2013

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.

Research Report
Pension Accounting and Reporting Changes

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)

Accounting
Local Authorities in New York State – An Overview

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 Report
Local Government Sales Taxes in New York State: 2015 Update

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 Report
Three Years of the Tax Cap – Impact on School Districts

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 Report
Local Sales Tax Collection Growth Slows to 3 Percent in 2014; Slowest Growth Since 2009

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 Report
Fiscal Stress Monitoring Summary Results: Common Themes for School Districts for 2013 to 2014

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.

Research Report
Annual Report on Local Governments 2014

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).

Annual Report
Fiscal Stress Monitoring System Results for 2013 Calendar Year Entities

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 Report
Growing Cracks in the Foundation: Local Governments Still Challenged to Keep Up with Vital Infrastructure Needs

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.

Research Report
Investing and Protecting Public Funds

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

Local Government Management Guide
Fiscal Profile City of Glens Falls

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 Report
Growth in Local Sales Tax Collections Slows to 2.4 Percent in First Half of 2014; Long Island and Southern Tier Collections Decline

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]

Research Report
Seeking Competition in Procurement

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.

Local Government Management Guide
Fiscal Profile City of Albany

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 Report
Fiscal Profile City of Middletown

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.

Research Report
Annual Performance Report on New York State's Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2012

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.

Research Report
Fiscal Profile City of Plattsburgh

The City of Plattsburgh has strong financial operations marked by operating surpluses in 2010 and 2011, modestly sized but growing and diverse tax base and healthy reserve levels. However, Plattsburgh’s high proportion of tax-exempt properties, weak socioeconomic measures due to a large student population and high debt burden are possible threats to the City’s financial condition.

Research Report
Accounting for Medicaid Reimbursements Paid by the Department of Health and the Resulting State Aid Deduction

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide guidance related to the accounting for Medicaid reimbursements paid by the Department of Health (DOH) and the resulting State Aid Deduction for those Medicaid reimbursements based upon a change in the Medicaid reimbursement methodology.

Accounting
Account Code for Local Government Reorganization and Efficiency Grants

An accounting code has been established in the Comptroller’s Uniform System of Accounts for recording revenues relating to reorganization and efficiency grants.

Accounting
Local Sales Tax Collections Increase by 5.2 Percent in 2013; New York City and Long Island Have Strongest Growth

Sales tax is a major revenue source for New York City and the 57 counties. The strongest growth for 2013 was in the Long Island region Some of the rapid sales tax growth seen there and in New York City was due to the rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Sandy.

Research Report
Annual Report on Local Governments 2013

This 2013 Annual Report on Local Governments highlights the difficult fiscal environment under which local officials are expected to fulfill their obligations to the people they serve, and outlines the steps OSC is taking to assist in these efforts.

Annual Report
Fiscal Stress Monitoring Summary Results: Common Themes for Villages

This report summarizes findings from the Fiscal Stress Monitoring System using 2013 data for villages with fiscal years ending in February through May. Statewide, 3 percent of villages are experiencing fiscal stress. Downstate villages are more likely than upstate villages to experience fiscal stress. The report notes that some of the environmental factors thought to drive fiscal stress differ between downstate and upstate villages.

Research Report
Fiscal Stress Monitoring Summary Results: Common Themes for School Districts Fiscal Year 2013

This report summarizes findings from the first set of fiscal stress scores to be released for school districts. Statewide, 12.9 percent of school districts are in some level of fiscal stress. Within the report, common fiscal and environmental factors are highlighted along with differences for school districts of varying need/resource capacity.

Research Report
Revenue Challenges Facing School Districts

Between a tax levy limit that restricts local funding, State and federal aid cuts and a lack of other sources of funding, schools are facing fiscal challenges that are not likely to dissipate in the short term.

Research Report
Fiscal Profile City of Buffalo

Like many other "Rust Belt" cities, Buffalo suffered a decline as transportation patterns shifted and manufacturing facilities shut down. However, Buffalo still benefits from its location on the Canadian border and the City, with State and private sector support, has recently made significant efforts to promote new development.

Research Report
Fiscal Oversight Responsibilities of the Governing Board

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

Local Government Management Guide
Fiscal Profile City of Rye

Rye has strong public and private services, including an excellent school system, a vital retail shopping sector and recreational facilities that include parks, beaches, golf and yacht clubs, and nature centers.

Research Report
Fiscal Profile City of White Plains

The full value of property in White Plains dropped by 29 percent between 2008 and 2013, after more than doubling from 2002 to 2008. While cities statewide show slight recovery, White Plains may find dealing with the loss of so much property value a challenge in the future.

Research Report
Accounting Changes related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Changes to Medicaid for Counties

The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law on March 23, 2010. As a result, the eligibility requirements for Medicaid have expanded and New York State (State) will now see an increased enrollment in the program as of January 2014. To assist with the additional costs associated with the increased coverage, the Federal government is providing additional Medicaid relief funding. This funding is anticipated to start in January 2014.

Accounting
Property Tax Exemptions in New York State

In 2012, the full market value of all real property in New York State was estimated at $2.5 trillion dollars with about $826 billion exempt from one or more types of taxes. This report explores what tax exemptions are, where they are most prevalent, and what local governments may do to minimize their impact. 

Research Report
Fiscal Stress Monitoring Summary Results: Common Themes for Local Governments with Fiscal Years Ending December 31, 2012

This report summarizes the findings for all of the calendar year-based local governments which have been scored to date, focusing on common themes and statewide trends.1

Research Report
Reporting Deferred Inflows and Outflows of Resources as Required by GASB 63 and 65

This bulletin provides information on the reporting requirements of deferred inflows of resources and deferred outflows of resources as required by Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 63, Financial Reporting of Deferred Outflows of Resources, Deferred Inflows of Resources, and Net Position (Statement 63), and GASB Statement No. 65, Items Previously Reported as Assets and Liabilities (Statement 65).

Accounting
Fiscal Profile Town of Colonie

Despite its strong tax base, the Town of Colonie has struggled financially in the past decade. However, between a series of property tax increases, including a one-time tax in 2009, and an arrangement to have a private contractor operate the Town’s landfill, Colonie experienced a stronger financial position at the end of 2011 than it had seen since 2002.

Research Report
Local Sales Tax Collections Up 5.7 Percent in First Half of 2013; Growth Concentrated Downstate

Local Sales Tax Collections Up 5.7 Percent in First Half of 2013; Growth Concentrated Downstate

Research Report
Fiscal Profile City of Binghamton

The decline in manufacturing has contributed to the City of Binghamton’s high rates of unemployment and poverty compared to statewide averages. The City must also contend with constraints upon its ability to raise revenues.

Research Report
Accounting for TAN and RAN Premiums

Local governments are more often receiving significant premiums upon the issuance of Tax Anticipation Notes (TANs) and Revenue Anticipation Notes (RANs) and accounting treatment has not always been consistent. This bulletin clarifies the prescribed accounting treatment of TAN and RAN premiums and the restrictions on the use of these premiums.

Accounting
Improving the Effectiveness of Your Claims Auditing Process

Primarily for officials who are new to the task of auditing claims, this guide provides basic information about the steps required in an effective auditing process.

Local Government Management Guide
Fiscal Stress Drivers and Coping Strategies

Many of New York’s local governments are still struggling with the effects of the recent recession. The following report takes a look at how some of the drivers of fiscal stress have affected counties, cities, towns, and villages.

Research Report
Fiscal Profile City of Watertown

The City has paid down a significant amount of debt. This, along with the City’s substantial fund balance and a large tax margin, leave Watertown well positioned to cope with current and future fiscal challenges.

Research Report
Fiscal Profile City of Elmira

The City of Elmira has taken measures to control expenditures through management efficiencies, while still recognizing the importance of investment in infrastructure and economic development initiatives.

Research Report
Annual Performance Report on New York State's Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2011

IDAs can assist ailing municipalities by encouraging the creation of new businesses or the retention of existing businesses. However, it is vitally important that the granting of tax exemptions for a project will generate an economic benefit in the form of well-paying jobs and/or future new revenues for local governments. In short, incentives should be coupled with performance. 2011 Regional IDA Statistics [pdf] | 2011 Regional IDA Statistics - Jobs Created [pdf] | Economic Development Regions of NYS [pdf] | IDA Projects in 2011 [xlsx]

Research Report
Annual Report on Local Governments 2012

This report highlights the many services that are available to local officials through our Division of Local Government and School Accountability, including audits, training and research.

Annual Report
Fiscal Profile City of Rochester

The City of Rochester projects large and growing budget gaps in its 2013-14 through 2017-18 fiscal years. Absent significant spending cuts or increasing revenues, the gaps could cause the City to exhaust its available fund balance within the next two fiscal years.

Research Report
Fiscal Profile City of Yonkers

By several measures, Yonkers is better off than many other cities in the State. Despite these advantages, the City has been challenged by significant structural budget gaps and, by the end of its 2011 fiscal year, the City had essentially depleted its general fund reserves.

Research Report
Fiscal Profile City of Syracuse

The City of Syracuse faces many of the same challenges as other upstate cities. However, a larger than average percentage of its property tax base is either exempt or delinquent and growing fixed costs in the budgets of the City and the dependent school district have created chronic budget gaps.

Research Report
Local Sales Tax Collections Increase by 3.3 Percent in 2012 Signaling Slower Economic Growth in New York

Sluggish growth in sales tax revenues adds additional pressure to already strained county budgets and to the budgets of other local governments that receive sales tax revenues through sharing agreements. | [read county-by-county data - pdf]

Research Report
Fiscal Profile City of Gloversville

Gloversville faces significant fiscal challenges as it has nearly exhausted its constitutional taxing limit, severely limiting its flexibility to address unforeseen expenses and make ongoing infrastructure investments.

Research Report
Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage for Noninterest-Bearing Transaction Accounts

The temporary unlimited insurance coverage for noninterest-bearing transaction accounts provided under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act expired on December 31, 2012. Therefore, after December 31, 2012, deposits held in noninterest-bearing transaction accounts are aggregated with other demand accounts (e.g., “traditional” noninterest-bearing checking accounts) and will be insured by the FDIC only up to the $250,000 limit per custodian per insured bank. Deposits that exceed the $250,000 FDIC coverage must be secured in accordance with statutory requirements. 

Accounting
Fiscal Profile City of Utica

Utica has been in fiscal decline in recent years, relying on non-recurring revenues to fill budget gaps. Its new mayor has vowed to work with the City Council and OSC to ensure that the City remains in control of its own financial future.

Research Report
Financial Challenges Facing Local Governments: Federal and State Aid Shrink as a Share of Revenues

From 2001 to 2011, total federal and state aid combined, grew at an average rate of 2.2 percent annually, slower than the rate of inflation (2.4 percent).

Research Report
Growing Cracks in the Foundation: Local Governments are Losing Ground on Addressing Vital Infrastructure Needs

Local governments’ infrastructure needs are substantial and growing, while their ability to maintain their investments in capital programs is increasingly constrained. State policy changes could help reverse this trend..

Research Report
Fiscal Profile City of Niagara Falls

Just as Niagara Falls seemed to be making headway in its financial struggles, a dispute between the Seneca Nation and the State of New York has resulted in the City losing as much as $60 million in revenue. The City’s 2013 executive budget proposal called for significant layoffs, program cutbacks, and property tax increases.

Research Report
Fiscal Profile City of Salamanca

Salamanca unexpectedly lost revenues from the Seneca Allegany Casino due to a dispute between the Seneca Nation and New York State over exclusive gaming rights. Although Salamanca aggressively responded to this revenue crisis, the City could run out of cash before the fiscal year ends on March 31, 2013.

Research Report
Deposit Placement Programs

Chapter 128 of the Laws of 2012 amended sections 10 and 11 of the General Municipal Law (GML) to authorize local governments to use “reciprocal deposit” programs for their deposits and investments. The purpose of the amendment is to provide an additional option to local governments for obtaining coverage from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to secure their public deposits and investments.

Accounting
The Financial Reporting Entity – as Updated by GASB Statement 61

This bulletin provides updated information on the definition of the financial reporting entity, superseding an earlier bulletin on this topic issued by the Office of the State Comptroller for local governments in New York State. All applicable previous guidance has been incorporated into this bulletin.
Updated October 2012 (Originally Issued July 2012)

Accounting
New York Cities: An Economic and Fiscal Analysis 1980 – 2010

This report seeks to inform that debate by examining the economic and fiscal histories of these other cities between 1980 and 2010, a period characterized by divergent trends for different groups of cities in the Empire State.

Research Report
New Fiscal Realities Challenge Local Governments

This report describes the fiscal oversight OSC provides to local governments faced with the serious fiscal challenges of budgeting with fewer resources to fund rising expenditures, all while staying within the recently enacted property tax cap.

Research Report
Excess Funds in Employee Benefit Accrued Liability Reserves (EBALR) - Report to the New York State Legislature

School districts can use EBALR moneys to make cash payments to employees for accrued leave time due to them when they leave school district employment. OSC certified the excess EBALR funds that school districts had reserved, but could not legally use, so district officials could put these moneys to productive use to pay for operating costs. 

Research Report
Travel and Conference Expense Management

In addition to policy development, this guide also includes practical discussions on establishing lodging, meal, and mileage rates; standardized travel forms; using credit cards and cash advances to pay for travel; extension of travel for personal reasons; travel expenses of spouses and other nonemployees; and other topics associated with the management of travel and conference expenses. We have also included information pertinent to volunteer firefighters and online training.

Local Government Management Guide
Annual Performance Report on New York State's Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2010

In 2010, the 114 active IDAs located throughout the State supported 4,444 projects and provided total tax exemptions of nearly $1.3 billion. 

Research Report
School District Tax Levy Limits - Preliminary Findings Point to an Average of 3 Percent Allowable Levy Growth Statewide

This report briefly describes that the average allowable levy growth is 3 percent, rather than the 2 percent voters may be expecting.
All tax cap elements, as reported by school districts to the Office of the State Comptroller, are provided in the accompanying tables. Tax Cap Elements by County [xls] | Tax Cap Elements by Region [xls] | Tax Cap Elements by School [xls]

Research Report
Cleaning It Up: The Foreclosure Problem and the Response of Local Governments

This report briefly describes the impact of the housing market crisis on New York State. The report also highlights the results of a survey by OSC on whether local officials are utilizing the 2009 law requiring foreclosing lenders to maintain vacant or abandoned properties. 

Research Report
Accounting Update for the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax

Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2011 amended Article 23 of the Tax Law to, among other things, exempt public schools and BOCES in the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD)1 from the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Mobility Tax, effective April 1, 2012. In addition, the payroll threshold and payroll tax rates have been adjusted for all other local government employers within the MCTD.

Accounting
Accounting for Deficiency Notes

Deficiency notes may be issued during a fiscal year to finance a deficiency in any fund or funds arising from revenues being less than the amount estimated in the budget for that fiscal year. The deficiency notes may not exceed five percent of the amount of that same year’s annual budget.

Accounting
Sales Tax Collections Continue to Rebound; Growth Rate Slows

Local sales tax collections grew by $650 million, or 5 percent, from 2010 to 2011, compared to a growth rate of 9.9 percent between 2009 and 2010. However, nearly a third of the 2010 growth was attributable to a sales tax rate increase in New York City. Without this, growth would have been about 7 percent. | [read county-by-county report - pdf]

Research Report
Reserve for Excess Tax Levy

Chapter 97 of the Laws of 2011 established a property tax levy limit (generally referred to as the tax cap) that restricts the amount of property taxes local governments (including counties, cities, towns, villages, fire districts, and special districts) and school districts can levy. Under this legislation, the property tax levy for affected local governments and school districts cannot increase more than 2 percent, or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower, with some exceptions. Local governments and school districts are permitted to override the levy limit if certain actions are taken. The law is effective for fiscal years that begin in 2012.
Updated January 2012 (Originally Issued December 2011)

Accounting
Report on the Private Sales of Bonds: August 13, 2010 through June 30, 2011

Local Finance Law requires the State Comptroller to report on private bond sales conducted by local government entities from the effective date of the Act through June 30, 2011. Because these private sales may be economically beneficial to local governments, OSC recommends that the expiration provision on the statutory private sale cap of $5 million be repealed.

Research Report
Annual Report on Local Governments 2011

This report highlights the new fiscal realities facing local governments and school districts as they work to comply with the new property tax cap while grappling with the lingering effects of the recent recession. In addition, the report addresses recent audits and summarizes many of the services and activities provided by our Division of Local Government and School Accountability.

Annual Report
2010 Census: Implications for New York State’s Local Governments

New York State’s population increased by 2.1 percent between 2000 and 2010 – the fifth slowest rate of growth among all states nationwide. Gains or losses in population cause a shift in the local tax base, drive adjustments in State and federal revenue allocations, and influence the demand for municipal services and infrastructure.

Research Report
Local Government Information Security: The Cost of Inadequate Protections

Along with technological advances comes the responsibility to protect confidential information adequately so that it cannot be accessed by unauthorized individuals. Failure to do so can come at a considerable financial cost.

Research Report
Local Government Spending on Highways

New York’s 57 counties (excluding New York City), 61 cities, 932 towns, and 556 villages reported spending nearly $2.6 billion to maintain 187,000 highway lane miles in 2009. Highway maintenance is one of the largest categories of expense for local governments, representing 7.6 percent of total local government expenditures.

Research Report
Annual Performance Report on New York State's Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2009

Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) are public benefit corporations created by an act of the State Legislature on behalf of one or more local governments. IDAs are intended to advance the job opportunities, health, general prosperity and economic welfare of the people of the State of New York, and to improve their recreation opportunities, prosperity and standard of living.

Research Report
Reducing the Cost of Tax Assessment Through Shared Services

Real property tax assessment is an important function of local governments. In 2009, New York’s city, county, town and village assessing units spent nearly $132 million and employed roughly 1,350 certified assessors, tax directors and assessment appraisers.

Research Report
Municipal Use of Local Development Corporations and Other Private Entities: Municipal Use of Local Development Corporations and Other Private Entities: Division of Local Government and School Accountability Background, Issues and Recommendations

New York’s counties, cities, towns, and villages frequently utilize local development corporations (LDCs) and other private entities for economic development and other activities. These LDCs and similar private entities are exempt from many of the constitutional and statutory provisions that guide the operations and financial transactions conducted by local governments, increasing the risk of waste, fraud, or abuse of taxpayer dollars or assets. 

Research Report
GASB 54: Fund Balance Reporting and Governmental Fund Type Definitions

The purpose of this bulletin is to explain the new GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) reporting requirements for fund balance and special revenue funds, and the effects these reporting requirements will have on the Annual Update Document (AUD) filed by municipalities and the ST-3 filed by school districts.
Updated April 2011 (Originally Issued November 2010)

Accounting
Staying Ahead of the Curve: School Districts Responding to Fiscal Challenges

This report describes the fiscal challenges facing school districts in New York State. As with other classes of government, school districts have struggled to maintain fiscal balance in the midst of rising costs and declining economic conditions. |  [Regional Profiles]

Research Report
Fiscal Impact of Proposed School Aid Cuts

The 2011-12 Executive Budget proposes a $1.5 billion net cut in State aid to schools, which would result in a 7.3 percent decrease in aid to districts statewide, translating to a 2.9 percent reduction to total general fund budgets. | [read District by District report - pdf]

Research Report
Sales Tax Collections Improve in 2010; County Collections Still Shy of 2008

Local sales tax collections grew by 9.9 percent in 2010 compared to 2009, when sales tax collections declined by 6.0 percent. However, nearly a third of this growth was due to a sales tax rate increase in New York City.

Research Report
Accounting and Reporting Manual for Counties, Cities, Towns and Villages, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Libraries

The Accounting and Reporting Manual (ARM) has recently been updated to reflect recent accounting releases and account code additions, changes in legislation relating to the financial reporting requirement dates for submitting Annual Reports to OSC, reformatted easy to read journal entries, and the addition of chapters relating to accounting and reporting requirements for Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Municipal Libraries. (2011 Issue: Updated Codes for Water and Soil Conservation Districts).

For most recent Chart of Accounts see Chart of Accounts Query

Accounting
Citizens’ Guide to Local Budgets

With some basic knowledge about what budgets contain, why they are important, and how they are presented, every citizen of every local community in New York State should be able to decipher the budget document.

Accounting
Citizens' Guide to Local Budgets

The guide is intended to enable concerned citizens to evaluate how well the budget has been formulated.

Guidance
Local Government Report on Private Sale of Bonds

Effective August 13, 2010, Chapter 386 of the Laws of New York amended Section 63.00 of the Local Finance Law to increase the cap on bonds issued through private sales from $1 million to $5 million (this provision sunsets on June 1, 2012, at which time the cap will revert to $1 million absent action by the State Legislature).

Accounting
Sales Tax Collections Continue to Rebound: Uneven Recovery Across New York

Local sales tax collections, including New York City’s, increased by 10.5 percent during the first three quarters of 2010, compared to a 9.0 percent decline in the same period the year before. However, over a third of this growth is due to sales tax rate increases and the extension of the sales tax to additional items in New York City and Nassau County. Adjusting for these tax increases, the growth in sales tax collections to date in 2010 has been about 6 percent.

Research Report
Management’s Responsibility for Internal Controls

This guide is designed to introduce local government and school managers and officials to the components of an integrated internal control framework. The following topics are discussed in this guide: • The Origin - Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (COSO) • Integrated Internal Control Framework - The Big Picture • The Five Essential Elements of Internal Control • Limitations of Internal Controls • The Impact of Information Technology • The Role of Internal Auditors and Audit Committees.

Local Government Management Guide
Taking Affirmative Action to Improve New York State’s MWBE Program

As New York State struggles to meet the challenges of its current fiscal crisis, State policy makers must find ways to encourage growth in various sectors of the State’s economy to ensure the long-term fiscal health of the State. Small businesses – including those owned by minorities and women – are a vital part of that economy.

Research Report
The Practice of Internal Controls

The purpose of this management guide is to provide practical information about internal controls for local government financial operations. The control procedures discussed in this guide are presented in an easy reference format which lists individual controls (for specific financial areas) and the reasons why the control is important. Choosing the right internal controls and ensuring that they are consistently applied will help ensure that local governments are using public assets efficiently and protecting against loss, waste and abuse

Local Government Management Guide
Account Codes for Natural Gas and Wind Farm Revenues

Account codes have been established to record revenues received from natural gas lease and royalty payments and wind farm revenues received from host community fees and payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs).

Accounting
Helping New York Families With the Cost of School Supplies: Is It Time to Go “Back to School” on Back-to-School?

New Yorkers plan to spend up to $192 million for back-to-school supplies this year, with approximately 64 percent of this spending ($123 million) driven by school supply lists from their children’s schools.

Research Report
Report on the Justice Court Fund

The Office of the State Comptroller administers the Justice Court Fund (JCF), a sole custody fund established in 1944 into which the revenues generated by the State’s 1,246 town and village justice courts are deposited.

Research Report
Preventing Fraud and Abuse of Public Funds: Local Governments Need to Do Better

OSC has identified fraud or abuse in all types of local governments in every part of the state. Fraud and abuse have other effects besides the amount of money that is lost and unavailable for productive uses by government. They also have the corrosive effect of undermining the public’s trust and confidence in government. OSC audits can be a useful tool in identifying and stopping

Guidance
Annual Report on Local Governments 2010

This report highlights some of the challenges facing New York’s local governments and school districts, and summarizes many of the services and activities provided by our Division of Local Government and School Accountability.

Annual Report
Signs of Recovery? Stabilizing Economy, Tax Increases Help Local Sales Tax Collections

Local sales tax collections, including New York City, increased by 10.6 percent during the first half of 2010 compared to the same period the year before. About half of this growth is due to sales tax rate increases and the extension of the sales tax to additional items.

Research Report
The Changing Manufacturing Sector in Upstate New York: Opportunities for Growth

Mirroring a nationwide trend, New York State has been losing manufacturing jobs over the past several decades. However, the remaining manufacturing base contains some bright spots that demonstrate the potential for an economic resurgence in New York.

Research Report
Upstate/Downstate: New York’s Diverging Housing Market

The meltdown of the national housing market continues to threaten homeowners with foreclosures and reduced home values. Fortunately, New York had fewer subprime mortgages and has fared better than many other states.1 Nonetheless, the decline in home sales and home values is being felt, particularly downstate.

Research Report
Municipal Strategies for Managing Debt Service Costs

As local governments address fiscal challenges posed by stagnant or declining State and local revenues, increased demand for social services and growing fixed costs, local government officials should be mindful of the impact that budget decisions can have on the cost of borrowing. These costs can increase significantly if prudent budget decisions are not made within the context of multiyear capital planning.

Research Report
State Budget Delay: Impact on Local Governments and School Districts

With the 2010-11 State Budget now six weeks late, local governments and school districts are struggling to budget and plan for the upcoming year. Under these circumstances, there is the distinct possibility that aid payments will be delayed and some localities may have to resort to short-term borrowing until they get paid by the State.

Research Report
Annual Performance Report on New York State's Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2008

Over the last several years, OSC has increased its oversight of IDA operations through audits and performance reports. The Comptroller also began suspending State tax exemption powers for IDAs that failed to file financial reports. Additionally, the Public Authorities Reform Act that became effective in March 2010, will further enhance IDA transparency by requiring additional reporting on governance, operating structure and financial condition. | [IDA Projects in 2008 - .xls]

Research Report
Cash Management Technology

Learn about electronic cash management technologies and the internal controls needed to help detect fraud and ensure that all transactions are captured. Relevant topics include the use of online banking, electronic transfers of funds, accepting credit/debit cards, remote deposit capture, lockboxes and common protection practices to safeguard cash.

Local Government Management Guide
Local Government Sales Taxes: 2010 Update

The report is an update to a report on the sales tax first issued in 2006, "Local Government Sales Taxes in New York State." The report highlights new issues related to this important revenue source, including the potential impact of the upcoming 2010 Decennial Census on the share of tax revenues flowing to individual governments. 

Research Report
Conflicts of Interest of Municipal Officers and Employees

This brochure is intended to help you better understand New York State law as it pertains to conflicts of interest, and your responsibilities when your public and private interests conflict.

Guidance
Number of Local Governments in New York

According to Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) records, there are currently 4,172 local government entities in New York. These include over 1,600 county, city, town and village governments, as well as 697 school districts and 872 fire districts. The nearly 1,000 other local government entities include libraries, community colleges, industrial development agencies and consolidated health districts, among others.

Research Report
Model Code of Ethics for Local Governments

Model Code of Ethics for Local Governments

Guidance
New York’s Dairy Industry in Crisis

New York’s dairy farms are a vital part of the upstate economy. Dairy industry losses in local communities have a ripple effect throughout their economies, negatively impacting local businesses that provide supplies or services to dairy farms, and the property and sales tax base.

Research Report
County Sales Tax: 2009 Collections and Implications for 2010

County sales tax collections (not including New York City) declined by 5.9 percent in 2009 compared to 2008. Fifty-three of 57 counties had sales tax declines. | [view County Sales Tax Collections 2007-2009 - Including New York City - pdf]

Research Report
Annual Report on School District Financial Accountability - 2009

This report summarizes the results of that five-year audit effort and provides recommendations to school district officials and state policymakers that will further strengthen school operations to better safeguard taxpayer funds and provide greater transparency and accountability to our citizens.

Annual Report
Affordable Care Act - The Comprehensive Federal Health Care Reform

The "Affordable Care Act" (ACA) was enacted in 2010. It aims to do the following:

  • Limit increases in health insurance premiums and costs,
  • Expand the number of people covered by health insurance, and
  • Provide people with new health care rights and benefits.

Local governments are impacted by ACA provisions. For example, they are subject to a payment to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if they do not meet certain requirements. Also, the "Cadillac Tax," a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health plans, will be implemented in 2020, two years later than originally planned.

Other
Chokepoints: New York’s Deteriorating Bridges

The recent closure of the Lake Champlain Bridge in Essex County (also known as the Crown Point Bridge) highlights the importance of New York's bridges to the regional economies in which they are located. Currently, there are 93 bridges in use in New York State with a safety rating at or below that given to the Lake Champlain Bridge prior to its closure. | [view bridges in use with a safety rating at or below 3.375 - pdf]

Research Report
Reserve Funds

This guide describes the types of reserve funds that local governments and school districts can establish and maintain. In general, reserve funds have specific intended purposes and requirements as set forth in law. This guide contains a summary of the many different types of reserve funds authorized by New York State statutes. The descriptions included in this guide provide information on: • General provisions for each type of reserve fund • Purposes for which each reserve fund may be used • Special provisions, if applicable, that pertain to certain reserve funds, such as: • Maximum total reserve balance permitted • Maximum annual contribution in any fiscal year • Referendum requirements for establishing or expending from reserve funds • Permitted uses of any unobligated or excess reserve funds.

Local Government Management Guide
School Districts and the Stimulus “Cliff”

School districts across New York state, including New York City, face a potential funding gap of at least $2 billion when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding runs out in 2011-12 unless federal aid is renewed or replaced by State aid. | [view a district-by-district breakdown of ARRA funding - .xls]

Research Report
Shared Services in Local Government

Shared services can help municipalities increase effectiveness and efficiency in their operation. As municipal responsibilities become increasingly complex and demanding, municipalities should explore shared services and other cooperative opportunities as a way to reduce or avoid costs, improve service delivery, or maintain services.

Local Government Management Guide
Annual Report on Local Governments 2009

This report summarizes the services and activities of the Division of Local Government and School Accountability. Our staff members in Albany and in our eight regional offices across the State are committed to promoting taxpayers’ interests by helping improve the fiscal management of New York’s local governments and schools.

Annual Report
Shared Services Among New York’s Local Governments Best Practices and Tips for Success

The report reinforces the importance of cooperation and consolidation in achieving local cost efficiencies, especially during these times of fiscal uncertainty. The report also provides tips to local officials interested in exploring greater degrees of cooperation with other local governments, promotes further exploration of service delivery on a regional basis and lists many resources available on these topics. 

Research Report
“Cash for Clunkers” Helps, but New York Local Sales Tax Collections Still Declining

Overall, county sales tax collections (excluding New York City) continued to fall during the third quarter of 2009 (July-September), declining by 7.9 percent, although collections at New York’s automobile dealerships actually increased compared to the same quarter in 2008, suggesting that the Car Allowance Rebate System (also called “Cash for Clunkers”) moderated the decline. | [County Sales Tax Distributions - pdf]

Research Report
Cracks in the Foundation: Local Government Infrastructure and Capital Planning Needs

This report analyzes historical trends in local capital spending and the current condition of our local infrastructure. It suggests some important steps that the State and local governments need to take to improve capital planning within New York. Finally, it suggests some policy options that could help sustain investment in the State’s infrastructure and encourage more coordinated, regional approaches to investment.

Research Report
Sales Tax Declines Through July 2009

Local sales tax collections for all of New York State, including New York City, declined by 8.9 percent, or $640 million, over the first seven months of 2009 compared to the same period the year before.

Research Report
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Accounting and Reporting

The Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 was signed into law in February 2009. The ARRA contains $787 billion in new federal spending and tax cuts including approximately $393 billion for State and local fiscal relief, infrastructure and energy, health and human services, education, and public safety. More than $26 billion has been allocated to New York State and its political subdivisions.

Accounting
Cost–Saving and Cost–Containment Strategies for New York State’s Local Governments

This report provides a number of ideas and explains efforts undertaken by various municipal officials or identified through audits conducted by OSC that are applicable to most local governments, and that address costs that are under local control.

Research Report
Getting the Most Out of Your Internal Audit Function

The brochure outlines additional opportunities, for Schools and BOCES, beyond the traditional financial transaction cycles (and requirements of the Five Point Plan) that could be gained from utilizing the internal audit function to its fullest extent.

Accounting
Internal Controls

A good internal control system is necessary to assist local officials in meeting all their responsibilities. In this session, we will focus on the following areas:  What are Internal Controls?, Why are Internal Controls Important?, Who is Responsible for Internal Controls?, Key Components of Internal Control, Internal Control Examples, Top Ten Fraud Risk Indicators, and Internal Control Checklist.

Guidance
Trouble Ahead: Managing Your Budget in Times of Fiscal Stress

In this environment, it is more important than ever that finance officers actively monitor their budgets against actual revenue collections and expenditure outlays to minimize the risk of a year-end deficit. By following a simple, stepby-step process, local governments can determine what budget assumptions may need revisiting, what expenditures may need to be reduced to maintain budget balance, and where they stand financially throughout the fiscal year. During times of fiscal stress, the overriding financial principle must become “don’t spend money you may not have.”

Local Government Management Guide
Annual Performance Report on New York State's Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2007

In 2007, nearly $61 billion in total project amounts were reported for all Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) statewide.

Research Report
Understanding the Constitutional Tax Limit - Counties

This booklet provides guidance on the implications of the Constitutional tax limit, information on its calculation and instructions for filing.

Guidance
Understanding the Constitutional Tax Limit - Villages

This booklet provides guidance on the implications of the Constitutional tax limit, information on its calculation as well as instructions for filing.

Guidance
Multiyear Capital Planning

This guide will address the process for developing an effective capital plan. It will discuss: • Developing a capital planning process • Creating an asset inventory • Prioritizing capital projects • Assessing budgetary impacts • Financing capital acquisitions • Adopting a capital plan and budget • Monitoring plan results.

Local Government Management Guide
Understanding the Constitutional Tax Limit - Cities

This booklet provides guidance on the implications of the Constitutional tax limit, information on its calculation and instructions for filing.

Guidance
Annual Report on School District Financial Accountability - 2008

Reflecting the turmoil on Wall Street and in the national and global economies, New York State’s budget shortfalls continue to worsen. Clearly, we are in very difficult fiscal times. By acting early, controlling spending and avoiding tempting budgetary gimmicks, state and local leaders can continue to deliver vital services now, while ensuring sound financial operations in the future. School district officials should find the information in this report useful as they consider ways to improve their own operations.

Annual Report
Accounting for Compensated Absences – Updated and Clarified

The purpose of this bulletin is to update and revisit our 1994 bulletin. This revision includes additional guidance on the types of liabilities that should be included as part of the compensated absences liability, clarifies the differences between current and long-term compensated absences liabilities, and discusses funding for compensated absences as it applies to the General Municipal Law (GML) §6-p “Employee Benefit Accrued Liability Reserve Fund (EBALR).”

Accounting
The Credit Crunch: Implications for Local Government Short–Term Debt

The current global financial market crisis could have serious implications for New York’s local governments if access to the credit markets remains constrained. While many long-term implications for local government finances may occur as a result of the broader deterioration in the economy, the credit situation has produced a more immediate impact on liquidity – the ability of local governments to finance their short-term capital operations and cash flow needs. Local governments who are dependent on short-term debt for these purposes could face continued risks.

Research Report
Meltdown: The Housing Crisis and its Impact on New York State's Local Governments

Compared with other states, particularly those in the South and West, significantly fewer subprime loans were issued in New York, although there are areas within the State where subprime mortgages were utilized more frequently. However, the number of home foreclosures in New York is increasing as more homeowners are faced with mortgages of all types that they can no longer afford.

Research Report
Annual Report on Local Governments 2008

The 2008 Annual Report on Local Governments introduces a new look to the annual local government financial data reported by every county, city, town, village, school district and fire district in New York State. In an effort to promote transparency and accountability, OSC has now made much of the data reported to it from 1996 to 2006 accessible through Open Book New York– a new, user-friendly website that also provides information on spending by State agencies, as well as all State contracts.

Annual Report
Securing Local Government Deposits and Temporary Investments

State law requires that all deposits and investments with banks or trust companies (e.g., checking accounts, time deposit accounts, certificates of deposit, etc.) in excess of FDIC coverage be properly secured.

Accounting
Property Tax Caps: Background and Trends

This report examines some of the various options proposed to reduce local property tax growth.

Research Report
New York State County Sales Tax Collections by Region

Sales taxes are an important source of revenue for New York State's local governments. This revenue stream has helped local governments cope with the rising cost of providing services and mitigate property tax increases. Sales tax revenues now exceed the real property tax as the largest revenue source for counties.

Research Report
Improved Financial Disclosure for LOSAPs and the New LOSAP Audit Requirements

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide LOSAP sponsors model notes that should be included with their annual financial reports. These notes will provide increased disclosure about the financial condition and operations of LOSAP’s. Revised August 2008 (Originally Issued January 2008)

Model Notes:
Defined Benefit Plans [pdf]
Defined Contribution Plans [pdf]

 

Accounting
Green Best Practices: How Local Governments can Reduce Energy Cost and Minimize Impact on Global Climate Change

Since the cost of electricity represents a considerable burden to local governments and their taxpayers, this report focuses on initiatives that reduce electric bills and the consumption of electricity overall, as well as the consumption of electricity generated through traditional methods.

Research Report
Performance of Industrial Development Agencies

This report provides an overview of financial and employment trends of the 116 active Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) in New York State.

Research Report
21st Century State Aid Formulas: Revenue Sharing

As previous reports by the Office of the State Comptroller have pointed out, the terms city, town and village have more to do with history than they do with presentday governmental function.2 This report looks at urban villages as one type of municipal government that has been impacted by these historic designations.

Research Report
Personal Service Cost Containment

This guide is designed to assist local governments and school districts contain certain personal service costs. It is broken down into the following sections: • Containing Health Insurance Costs • Minimizing Unemployment Insurance Costs • Managing Workers’ Compensation Costs • Overtime Planning and Management The suggestions in this guide are ideas for you to consider and possibly utilize in the management of your operations and in the development of your annual budget. You will need to tailor these cost savings opportunities to fit the requirements and needs of your local government or school district.

Local Government Management Guide
Financial Condition Analysis

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

Local Government Management Guide
Annual Report on School District Financial Accountability - 2007

New Yorkers spend tens of billions of dollars on education each year. After three years of auditing how school districts manage their finances, we have seen dramatic progress. In 2007, OSC issued 257 audits of schools. As part of our audit effort, we highlight the best practices of the school districts that are well managed so that others around the state can learn from them. For those needing more assistance, our audits also offer practical recommendations to help schools operate more effectively and efficiently. For instance, we continue to find problems with how schools are designing their controls for information technology and what employees are being paid when they leave.

Annual Report
Annual Report on Local Governments 2007

This report outlines major local government fiscal trends and highlights recent policy developments that affect their financial health. It also summarizes the services and activities of the Division of Local Government and School Accountability, where staff in Albany and eight regional offices across the State are committed to promoting taxpayers’ interests by helping to improve the fiscal management of local governments and schools within New York.

Annual Report
Layers of Debt: Trends and Implications for New York’s Local Governments

New York State and its local governments maintain an extensive infrastructure critical to the economy, including roads, bridges, educational facilities, water and sewer systems and medical facilities. Most of this capital investment is financed through the issuance of long term debt. Investment in such infrastructure maintains and improves the vitality and economic well being of our communities. However, when governments rely excessively on debt, especially to pay for current operating costs, the long term costs of supporting the debt will impact current as well as future operating budgets by limiting financial flexibility and the ability to finance essential capital projects in the future.

Research Report
Financial Report on School Districts - Fiscal Years Ended 2005

This report provides an overview of their finances, including data for School Districts fiscal years ending in 2004 and 2005.

Research Report
Financial Report on Fire Districts- Fiscal Years Ended 2005

This report provides an overview of their finances, including data for Fire Districts fiscal years ending in 2004 and 2005.

Research Report
Financial Report on Villages - Fiscal Years Ended 2005

This report provides an overview of their finances, including data for Villages fiscal years ending in 2004 and 2005.

Research Report
Financial Report on Counties- Fiscal Years Ended 2005

This report provides an overview of their finances, including data for county fiscal years ending in 2004 and 2005.

Research Report
Decision 2007: Counties and the Medicaid Choice

Under legislation passed in 2005, which established a cap on local Medicaid costs, counties needed to decide by September 2007 to either keep the Medicaid cap or exchange a percentage of their sales tax revenues.

Research Report
Financial Report on Cities - Fiscal Years Ended 2005

This report provides an overview of their finances, including data for city fiscal years ending in 2004 and 2005.

Research Report
Red Flags for Fraud

Why didn’t you see it? There was fraud and you missed it. Conducting a “should of” after a fraud happens may show that red flags were present. If you had only recognized the warning signs, then that loss may not have occurred or been substantially reduced. Based on a recent survey by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), occupational fraud substantially increases organizational costs. It is a myth that fraud is a big scheme that should have been uncovered sooner and easy to detect. Fraud starts small and just gets bigger and bigger, until something becomes noticeably different or unusual.

Guidance
Accounting for Sales of Real Property Tax Receivables and Future Tobacco Settlement Receipts

GASB Statement 48 makes a distinction between sales of receivables and future revenues, and the pledging of receivables or future revenues to repay a collateralized borrowing. The distinction is important because the cash received from a borrowing would result in a liability while the cash received from a sale would most likely be recorded as revenue or deferred revenue, depending on the transaction.

Accounting
Financial Report on Towns - Fiscal Years Ended 2005

This report provides an overview of their finances, including data for Towns fiscal years ending in 2004 and 2005.

Research Report
Pollution Remediation Obligations

GASB Statement No. 49, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pollution Remediation Obligations. This statement explains when a government would be required to report a liability in its financial statements related to cleaning up pollution or contamination. The statement also establishes a probability weighted method that a government would be required to use to determine the estimated amount of pollution obligation liabilities that would be reported in its financial statements.

Accounting
Model Code of Ethics for Fire Districts

Model Code of Ethics for Fire Districts

Guidance
Town Special Districts in New York: Background, Trends and Issues

The purpose of this report is to help shed light on how town special improvement districts are structured, how they operate, and what fiscal burden they impose on property owners. 

Research Report
Annual Report on School District Financial Accountability - 2006

Many school districts throughout the state have made considerable improvements to their financial controls over the last year. There are still opportunities for school districts to improve financial operations, and we continue to find occasional instances of serious problems and potential fraud. This report identifies additional opportunities for school districts to improve controls over information technology, employee benefit payments, claims auditing, no-bid contracts, capital assets and segregating duties.

Annual Report
Fiscal Challenges Ahead for New York’s Cities

This research brief analyzed multiyear financial plans submitted by cities under a new State requirement. The Comptroller's analysis looks at 48 of these plans, excluding New York City. The report notes that quality of these plans varied greatly and urges the State to adopt a formal review and approval process of the plans, as well as more training for city officials. 

Research Report
Annual Report on Local Governments 2006

Highlighted within this report are some of the major fiscal trends in New York’s local governments and recent policy developments that affect their operations and financial health. This report helps illustrate the complex and changing environment in which local governments must operate, and the delicate balance local officials must achieve between service delivery and fiscal responsibility.

Annual Report
Fire District Legislation

This bulletin highlights changes to fire district accounting and reporting requirements, and clarifies the new auditing requirements.

Accounting
Outdated Municipal Structures

This study presents an analysis of our municipalities—cities, towns and villages—including a statistical regrouping that suggests what a modern classification system might look like if we started from scratch today, based on current conditions.

Research Report
Model Custodial Agreement for Use with Collateral Pools

Section 10 of the New York State General Municipal Law was amended in 2005 to authorize an additional option for local governments to secure deposits and temporary investment of public funds. Under the new law, local governments have the option to accept as security a pledge of a pro rata portion of a "pool" of eligible securities. Local governments that choose to utilize the new pooled collateral option must take necessary steps to ensure that their deposits and investment are properly secure.

Accounting
Accounting and Budgeting for Shared Sales Tax Revenues

This bulletin highlights accounting and budgeting changes for counties who share their own sales tax revenues with other local governments within their boundaries. These changes are necessitated by the recent Statements from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).

Accounting
Medicare Part D – Federal Prescription Drug Benefits Program

This bulletin highlights the Medicare Part D Federal prescription drug benefits program and provides appropriate accounting guidance for Federal subsidies received under this program.

Accounting
Industrial Development Agencies in New York State: Background, Issues and Recommendations

This report supplies context for the current policy discussion on Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs), details major process and accountability issues, describes efforts by the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) to improve reporting quality and provides a summary of statistical and financial information from 2004 IDA annual reports.

Research Report
Property Taxes in New York State

This research brief summarizes issues associated with the property tax, provides an overview of recent trends and analyzes the tax burden across regions and types of local government.

Research Report
Analysis of Fiscal Stress in New York State's Cities

This research brief measures fiscal stress in cities and includes an overall fiscal profile of each city in the State (except New York City). Of the 61 cities examined, 13 exhibited one or more indicators of severe fiscal stress. The most severely affected cities exhibited stress across multiple factors. Many cities appear to be on the verge of more widespread fiscal difficulties. 

Research Report
Audit Committee Charter Guidance and Template

These guidelines provide a framework and offer guidance that boards of education can use for establishing an audit committee charter. A sample charter is provided at the end of this guidance. This sample charter does not include all activities that might be appropriate to a particular audit committee, nor will all activities identified in this sample charter be relevant to every committee. 

Guidance
County Medicaid Costs: UPDATE

Across the State, growing medicaid costs continue to place significant pressure on local fiscal conditions. See related: 2006 County by County data [pdf]

Research Report
Medicaid Cap Legislation

A new law was enacted (Chapter 58 of the Laws of 2005) to "cap" county Medicaid costs at calendar 2005 levels and limit growth rates to 3.5 percent in 2006 and 3.25 percent in 2007.

Accounting
Annual Report on Local Governments 2005

While many local governments are in stable financial condition, many are not—particularly upstate urban communities, where population losses and economic decline are eroding their ability to support basic governmental functions. As this report describes, there are very different underlying conditions facing municipalities depending on geography (upstate or downstate) and type of community (city versus suburb).

Annual Report
Changes to Law Governing Temporary Investments

Recently enacted legislation amends the General Municipal Law to authorize an additional option for securing deposits and temporary investments of local government monies.

Accounting
Medicaid Cap Legislation Update

This bulletin has been superseded. It has been replaced by the April 2020 bulletin Accounting for Medicaid Expenditures [pdf].

Accounting
Financing Education in New York’s “Big Five” Cities

The “Big Five” cities of New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers either are, or have recently been, fiscally distressed. This affects their dependent school systems, which already face significant challenges associated with the socio-economic composition of their students and the age of their facilities.

Research Report
County Medicaid Costs

Across the State, growing Medicaid costs continue to place significant pressure on local fiscal conditions. With most counties already seeking or receiving State legislative approval to increase their sales tax rates to 4 percent or more, and some dangerously close to exhausting their property tax margins, counties are being challenged to effectively deal with rising Medicaid costs.

Research Report
Revenue Sharing in New York State

Unrestricted aid to local governments – known as revenue sharing – is State aid that can be used for any local government purpose. The intended goal is to redistribute tax dollars broadly to municipalities which do not have the tax base or taxing authority to generate this revenue on their own.

Research Report
Population Trends in New York State's Cities

This research brief— focusing mainly on demographic trends—is the first of a series that will examine major issues facing local governments in New York State.

Research Report
Reporting of Tobacco Asset Securitization Corporations

The purpose of this bulletin is to amend our January 2001 bulletin entitled ‘Tobacco Settlement Payments’ based upon the release of GASB Technical Bulletin No. 2004-1 ‘Tobacco Settlement Recognition and Financial Reporting Entity Issues.’

Accounting
Annual Report on Local Governments 2004

This annual report highlights major issues facing local governments, building upon the studies and audits from the Division, which are increasingly directed at issues of statewide or regional concern, such as smart growth or the empire zones program.

Annual Report
Homeland Security Aid

The purpose of this bulletin is to inform local government officials of the establishment of new revenue and appropriation codes to account for and report homeland security aid and related expenditures.

Accounting
Smart Growth in New York State: A Discussion Paper

This paper is intended to help stimulate a vigorous debate on smart growth in New York State by providing a general background and helping to define major issues. New York has a unique urban and natural heritage, and a rich diversity of communities, many of which need to be brought back to a healthy condition. These resources need to be conserved and developed wisely, in an economically sustainable and environmentally sound manner.

Research Report
Conducting Internal Audits of Cash Collection Activities

This bulletin discusses the importance of conducting internal audits of cash collection activities and provides guidance for their successful completion. It is intended primarily for towns and villages, but could be utilized by other local governments.

Technical Document
Annual Report on Local Governments 2003

This report provides a summary of the Division’s activities and gives an overview of local government finances in New York State.

Annual Report
Strategic Planning

We have designed this publication for both elected and appointed local officials who are interested in strategic planning. This guide assumes no prior knowledge of strategic planning and takes a very basic approach to the rudiments involved in creating and implementing such a strategic plan. This publication aims to convey the following: • Description of strategic planning: what it is, key terms and concepts • Why strategic planning is beneficial • How to apply this technique • Who should be involved, and at which stages • Offer a “how-to” guide that takes you from inception to implementation The Office of the State Comptroller advocates strategic planning as another tool to preserve your municipality’s fiscal health and overall well-being. By taking a look at the past and present, we believe that you will be better equipped to craft your own future.

Local Government Management Guide
Cash Management and Bank Reconciliations

A recurring issue that some of our audits have found within the past few years is that some municipalities do not perform routine bank reconciliations. This technical assistance bulletin is provided to stress the importance of bank reconciliations and provide guidance for successfully completing one.

Technical Document
Intermunicipal Cooperation and Consolidation - Exploring Opportunities for Savings and Improved Service Delivery

This report seeks to accomplish four important tasks:

• Reviews pertinent policy issues

• Assesses current activity levels in New York State 

• Offers strategies for collaboration

• Proposes fiscally responsible measures

Finally, the report offers several policy recommendations intended to further enable local government collaboration.

Research Report
Revenue Codes for Child Welfare Funding

This bulletin explains revenue account code changes related to Child Welfare Funding in the 2002-03 State Budget. 

Accounting
June 2002: GASB Statement 34

The objective of the project was to provide a financial reporting model that provides users of financial statements with information which will enhance their understanding of governmental operations and ultimately result in an increased accountability by the governmental units.

Accounting
Advance Refunding Bonds

This bulletin explains the reporting requirements for advance refunding bonds. Many school districts are issuing advance refunding bonds this year because the state is changing how it calculates and pays building aid. Building aid, rather than being based on actual debt service payments, will now be based on an "assumed amortization calculation" that assumes that districts borrow money for the maximum period of probable usefulness allowed by Local Finance Law section 11.00 and pays an assumed interest rate. 

Accounting
Accounting and Reporting Changes

The purpose of this bulletin is to inform local government chief fiscal officers of the changes that are being made to the Chart of Accounts and Annual Reports that will be filed with our office. These changes are necessary to comply with the fund level reporting requirements promulgated by GASB Statement No. 34.

Accounting
Budgetary Comparison Information

The purpose of this bulletin is to explain the new GAAP reporting requirements for budgetary comparison information and the effects these reporting requirements will have on the Annual Update Document (AUD) filed by municipalities and the ST3 filed by school districts.

Accounting
October 2001: Fund Financial Statements

The purpose of this bulletin is two-fold:

  • First, we want to assure those local governments not implementing GASB Statement No.34 that the upcoming adjustments that will be made to the fund level statements for 2002 fiscal year end reporting will not have a major impact on their record keeping and/or financial reporting to OSC. Our January 2001 accounting release focused on the changes associated with accounting and reporting of trust funds. Other changes, dealing with terminology and account codes changes, will be addressed in a future bulletin.
  • Second, we want to provide those local governments contemplating implementation of GASB Statement No. 34 with some basic information about the fund financial statements that are the third element of the model. The following information is provided for those local governments contemplating the implementation of GASB Statement No. 34.
Accounting
Budgeting and Fund Balance Legislation

The purpose of this bulletin is to alert you to legislative changes requested by the State Comptroller that apply to budgets for fiscal years commencing on or after January 1, 2001 and to provide information that will help determine a reasonable level of fund balance for your government.

Accounting
March 2001: Government-Wide Financial Statements (Second in a series of GASB Statement No. 34 Bulletins)

Governments currently prepare combined financial statements focusing on fund types rather than the government as a whole. GASB Statement No. 34 requires preparation of consolidated, government-wide financial statements. Government-wide statements consist of a statement of net assets* and a statement of activities* prepared using the economic resources measurement focus and the accrual basis of accounting. These statements will report all assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses of the primary government distinguishing between the governmental and business-type activities (note: school districts and BOCES are not permitted to use enterprise funds). Fiduciary activities will be excluded from the government-wide statements. Discretely presented component units, as determined in accordance with the provisions of GASB Statement No. 14, will be reported in a separate column to the right of the primary government.

*Examples from GASB Statement 34 included in this bulletin, copyright by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, 401 Merritt 7, Norwalk, CT 06856 are reprinted by permission.

Accounting
February 2001: Management's Discussion and Analysis (MD&A)(First in a series of GASB Statement No. 34 Bulletins)

This information is intended to assist the users of financial statements in assessing whether the governments' finances have improved or deteriorated.

Accounting
Publication Listing and Order Form

Publication Listing and Order Form

Other
Tobacco Settlement Payments

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide accounting and reporting guidance for payments made to counties pursuant to the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with the tobacco industry. The agreement provides that counties will receive annual payments to compensate them for medical costs incurred as a result of illness resulting from use of tobacco products. Many counties have elected to accelerate receipt of future payments by securitizing these payments. This bulletin provides accounting and reporting guidance for receipt of annual payments, proceeds of securitization, and residual payments.

Accounting
January 2001: Accounting & Reporting of Expendable and Non-expendable Trusts

GASB Statement No. 34 makes significant changes to the accounting and reporting requirements for expendable and nonexpendable trusts. The statement eliminates the designation of expendable and nonexpendable trust funds and creates new funds based on the ability to use these resources for governmental purposes. 

Accounting
GASB Statement No. 33 "Accounting and Financial Reporting for Nonexchange Transactions"

GASB Statement No. 33 provides accounting and reporting guidelines for nonexchange transactions. A nonexchange transaction is one in which a government receives (or gives) value without directly giving (or receiving) equal value in exchange.

Accounting
June 2000: Accounting System Update - Elimination of Risk Retention Fund

The Risk Retention Fund (CS) was originally established to account for risk financing and insurance activity in a single fund using the modified accrual basis of accounting. As a result of pronouncements from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), the Risk Retention Fund (CS) will be eliminated from the Uniform System of Accounts for fiscal years ending after December 31, 2000.

Accounting
Workforce Investment Act

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 (Public Law 105-220) provides the framework for a national workforce preparation and employment system designed to meet both the needs of the nation's businesses and the needs of job seekers and those who want to further their careers.

Accounting
Handicapped Parking Education Program

Chapter 497 of the Laws of 1999 amends the Vehicle and Traffic Law effective onApril 1, 2000 to provide that every county and the City of New York shall establish a handicapped parking education program for the purpose of providing education, advocacy and increased public awareness of handicapped parking laws.

Accounting
August 1999: New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation State Revolving Loan Funds

Since 1990 the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC), through its revolving loan fund, has provided over 330 local governments and public authorities nearly $5 billion in long and short term loans to finance eligible clean water and drinking water projects.

This bulletin describes the types of loans that are currently available from the revolving fund (long term leverage loans, short term direct loans, and long term direct loans) and the proper accounting treatment for each loan type.

Accounting
Amendment to June 1998 Bulletin "Accounting for the Tax Relief (STAR) Program

The Office of Real Property Services (ORPS) has recently requested a specific code to identify state aid received to offset the cost of administering the STAR program.

Accounting
The Year 2000 (Y2K) Issue and Disclosure Requirements

This bulletin continues OSC’s efforts to keep you aware of developments related to the Y2K issue.

Accounting
Change in Accounting for Deferred Compensation Plans

Changes in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 457 require local governments to hold deferred compensation in trust for employees and their beneficiaries. Previously, IRC Section 457 required that these assets remained the property of the employer until paid or made available to the participant; as such, they were held in an agency capacity and were subject to the claims of the government’s general creditors.

Accounting
Accounting for Town and Village Justice Payments

Legislation requested by the State Comptroller (Chapter 465, Laws of 1998) permits town and village courts, who meet certain criteria, to transmit monthly receipts to the Chief Fiscal Officer (CFO) without first sending them to the State for distribution. Previously, courts had to send the moneys they collected to the State Comptroller, who, on a quarterly basis, sent the local share back to the municipalities. 1996 legislation created a temporary pilot program for up to 100 municipalities, but this 1998 legislation makes the program permanent and opens it up to all municipalities who have the capacity to file reports electronically and meet other criteria. This gives localities access to their revenues sooner and improves their cash flow.

Accounting
Accounting for the State Tax Relief (STAR) Program

Issued to: County, City, Town and Village Chief Fiscal Officers, School District and BOCES Business Officials.

Accounting
Changes to Revenue and Expenditure Accounts Resulting from Welfare Reform

Federal and State Welfare Reform legislation has brought about program and funding changes which necessitate revisions to the revenue and expenditure accounts listed below. These changes are based on recent revisions to Chapter 2, Volume I, of the Fiscal Reference Manual published by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

Accounting
Accounting Requirements and Program Information for Multi-Modal Transportation Program

Multi-Modal Projects will be accounted for in a Capital Projects Fund or in an Enterprise Fund. Capital Projects fund revenues will be recorded in subsidiary revenue account code 3505 - Multi-Modal Program and expenditures will be classified by functional unit based on the type of project being undertaken. Enterprise funds should capitalize assets and recognize revenue using account 3505.

Accounting
Medicaid Management Information System Accrued Liability Calculation

Since your county’s billing lag factor is included in the MARS 039 Reports sent to your county Social Services Commissioner, we are no longer sending an annual bulletin. As counties closed their books and filed their 1997 annual reports, a few questions arose about the MMIS accrual. The purpose of this bulletin is to restate the procedure for making this accrual.

Accounting
New York City Watershed Agreement

An agreement for the purpose of protecting New York City’s drinking water supply and the economic vitality of the upstate Watershed communities. The agreement provides for expenditures by New York City and the State of New York on various long-range watershed protection and water quality enhancement programs.

Accounting
Risk Retention Fund is Eliminated by Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 10 - Accounting and Financial Reporting for Risk Financing and Insurance Issues

This bulletin provides information on the elimination of the Risk Retention (Insurance Reserve) Special Revenue Fund (the CS fund) from the Uniform System of Accounts. It also provides information on how the activity in that fund must be reported in the general fund in the ST-3 Annual Financial Report for the year ended June 30, 1997. This change is needed to comply with GASB Statement 10.

Accounting
Accounting for Gifts and Donations to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program

The purpose of this release is to provide accounting and reporting guidance for gifts and donations restricted to use for D.A.R.E. Programs.

Accounting
Accounting for Registrar Fees By City Clerks, Town Clerks and Village Clerks Who Are Unsalaried Registrars of Vital Statistics and Accounting for Emergency Disaster Work

Issued to: County, City, Town and Village Chief Fiscal Officers

Accounting
Social Service Block Grants and Targeted Medicaid Cost Savings

Chapter 83 of the Laws of 1995 adds Social Services Law section 153-i, Block Grants for family and children’s services. The law requires the New York State Department of Social Services to apportion the state funds appropriated among the social services districts by a formula contained in section 153-i, subdivision 1, paragraph b.

Accounting