Public authorities are public benefit corporations created to further public interests. They develop, operate and maintain some of New York's most critical infrastructure including roads, bridges, mass transit and schools. In addition, these entities are used to fund or support local government infrastructure, such as water and sewer projects, civic facilities projects, and economic development. As a result, public authorities play a significant role in the debt structure of New York State.
State public authorities are legislatively created and have various levels of autonomy from the State, based on the powers and constraints built into their legislative mandate. Each public authority is governed by a separate board of directors appointed by elected officials for varying terms of office.
Funding and Operations
Some State public authorities are completely self-supporting and operate entirely outside the budget process, while others rely on State appropriations to fund operations.
Unlike traditional State agencies, many public authorities conduct business outside of the typical oversight and accountability requirements for operations including, but not limited to:
- Employment practices;
- Contracts and procurement procedures; and
- Financial reporting.
Bonds and Debt
Most State public authorities are authorized to issue bonds — without voter approval — to develop, operate and maintain infrastructure or to fund projects for third parties. Currently, over 97 percent of all State-funded debt outstanding was issued by public authorities without voter approval.
The debt service for these bonds is usually supported by revenues of the project, such as tolls that are levied by the authority, fees paid by the third party or appropriated payments from the State to repay outstanding debt. The State has also assigned specific revenue streams to an authority as a way for the authority to pay debt service.
Public Authorities Reporting Information System
The Public Authorities Reporting Information System (PARIS) is the online reporting system that allows public authorities to enter their information and submit their reports to both the Authorities Budget Office and the Office of the State Comptroller, as required by law.
Data on Public Authorities
Open Book New York is a free, searchable database with financial information about State and local public authorities dating back to 2007.
You can search two reports:
- Summary Financial Information: Submitted by public authorities as part of the Annual Report filing, this report contains information from the statement of net assets and the statement of revenues, expenses, and change in net assets.
- Debt: Submitted by public authorities as part of the Annual Report filing, this report contains information about the debt that public authorities have outstanding, as well as new debt issued and debt retired in the selected fiscal year.
- Reports on Public Authorities
- Public Authority Regulations
- Comptroller's Oversight of State Authority Contracts
- Industrial Development Agencies
- Authorities Budget Office (ABO)