Publications and Research Reports

Featured Publications

Accounting Bulletin GASB 84 Report Cover

Provide guidance on identifying fiduciary activities for accounting and financial reporting purposes... Updated November 2020 (Originally Issued March 2020)

Accounting for Medicaid-Related Intergovernmental Transfers - Cover Image

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide accounting guidance to counties for Medicaid-related intergovernmental transfers (IGTs).

Local Sales Tax Collections Decline by 10 Percent in 2020, With Major Shifts in Consumer Spending - Cover Image

New York State local sales tax collections declined by 10 percent (or $1.8 billion) in 2020 compared to 2019, due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Fiscal Stress Monitoring System - School Districts: School Year 2019-20 Results; 2020-21 Risks Report Cover

This snapshot highlights the FSMS results for school districts that reported for school fiscal year (SY) 2019-20, which ended on June 30, 2020, which included the period of the statewide mandatory school shutdown from March 18 through....

Title Description Issued Topic
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, consider setting aside money in a capital or repair reserve fund to be used for future capital projects or certain repair costs. 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 expenditures and revenues. Saving for future capital needs can also reduce or eliminate interest and debt issuance costs.
Updated February 2021 (Originally Issued January 2016)

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

The financing of justice courts is a local responsibility and maintaining a court may pose administrative and financial challenges. As a result, there is growing interest by citizens and local governments to explore consolidation of justice courts, when practicable. In these cases, towns and villages should consider consolidating their justice courts. Benefits of consolidation include, but are not limited to, maximizing services by pooling resources and streamlining the court system by centralizing services.

This resource document provides a step-by-step breakdown of the consolidation process and outlines some of the relevant issues.
Updated January 2021 (Originally Issued January 2017)

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

State contracts can provide many necessities for local governments and school districts like road salt, fuel, vehicles, heavy equipment, food, furniture, computer hardware and software, and much more. Goods and service contracts fall into three general categories: commodities, service and technology. Capitalizing on the State's buying power and expertise may result in lower prices and better quality goods and services.
Updated January 2021 (Originally Issued January 2016)

Cost Saving Ideas
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
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Legal Requirements

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

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: 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
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: 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: 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
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: 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: 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: 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: 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