A total of 20 local governments in New York State ended their fiscal year 2021 designated in some form of fiscal stress, down from 30 a year ago, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today. These determinations were made based on the State Comptroller’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System scores.
DiNapoli releases fiscal stress scores for municipalities (excluding New York City) twice a year. The scores announced today are for local governments operating on a calendar year basis for 2021, covering all counties and towns, 44 cities, and 11 villages. This round of scoring identified eight local governments designated in fiscal stress, including six cities and two towns. In April, DiNapoli announced that 12 local governments with non-calendar fiscal years were designated in stress.
“The infusion of aid from the federal government and robust local sales tax revenues helped to put local governments on solid fiscal ground in 2021,” DiNapoli said. “Still, municipalities shouldn’t assume this will last. Inflation remains a major concern and sales tax growth is slowing in many areas. With the end of extraordinary federal aid, and a possible recession looming, local governments need to plan carefully to avoid fiscal cliffs in the future.”
DiNapoli’s report notes that in this latest round of municipalities operating on a calendar year basis, the city of Poughkeepsie was the only one in the highest-ranking designation of “significant stress.” That is down from three in 2020. The city of North Tonawanda and the town of Yates were in “moderate stress,” the next highest ranking, followed by the town of Fort Covington and the cities of Glen Cove, Cortland, Fulton and Albany, which were designated as “susceptible to fiscal stress.”
Of the 20 local governments in a fiscal stress designation for fiscal year 2021, 11 were also in some form of fiscal stress in 2020. Poughkeepsie was the only one in “significant stress” both years.
DiNapoli’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System informs public officials and taxpayers about factors that impact local governments’ fiscal health. It evaluates local governments on financial indicators including year-end fund balance, cash-on-hand, short-term borrowing, fixed costs and patterns of operating deficits and creates fiscal stress scores.
The system also evaluates information such as population trends, poverty and unemployment in order to establish a separate “environmental” score for each municipality, which can be used to help describe the context in which these local governments operate.
In January, DiNapoli issued fiscal stress scores for school districts with 23 designated in some level of fiscal stress in school year 2020-21.
DiNapoli’s report also found:
- None of the 55 reporting counties were designated in any fiscal stress category, a first since the Fiscal Stress Monitoring System was implemented in 2013.
- The number of cities and villages in stress both increased in FYE 2021 compared to FYE 2020. For cities, 16% were designated in some level of stress, up from 13.5% in FYE 2020 and 11.5% in FYE 2019.
- Scores for nearly all fiscal stress indicators decreased for calendar year local governments from 2019 to 2020, and dropped for all of them from 2020 to 2021. The percentage of local governments showing low fund balance in FYE 2021 was 5%, down from 14.1% in FYE 2019.
- A total of 188 local governments did not receive a fiscal stress score for fiscal year ending in 2021, up from 122 in 2017. These entities did not file their required financial reports in time to be scored.
DiNapoli’s report noted that while the vast majority of local governments are not in some designation of fiscal stress, they may still be experiencing financial challenges. It recommended that local officials use the scoring information to address areas of concern to avoid progressing to a fiscal stress ranking.
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