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Comptroller finalizes fiscal monitoring system, to classify financial condition of local governments

ALBANY - State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office has finalized plans to implement a statewide fiscal monitoring system that would publicly identify local governments experiencing financial strain.

DiNapoli's office drafted the 'early warning' monitoring system last September and shared details of the proposal with all of the state's local governments and school districts for their review during a 60-day comment period. More than 85 local government and school district officials, as well as a number of affiliated organizations, provided a wide variety of feedback.

"Many local officials have made it clear this monitoring system will play a helpful role in highlighting the financial trends in communities across New York," said DiNapoli. "By presenting a realistic picture of the economic and budgetary challenges facing our local governments, corrective actions can be taken when appropriate to avoid a fiscal crisis. It also provides the public an objective analysis they can use to participate in local financial decision-making."

Using data already submitted by more than 3,000 local governments, DiNapoli's office will calculate and publicize an overall score of fiscal stress for approximately 2,300 municipalities and school district across the state. They will be listed as in "significant fiscal stress," in "moderate fiscal stress," "susceptible to fiscal stress," or "not in fiscal stress."

The early warning system will include nine financial indicators, such as cash-on-hand and patterns of operating deficits, together with broader demographic information like population trends and tax assessment growth. The system will start by analyzing those localities whose fiscal year ended December 31, 2012 and later apply it to villages and school districts whose fiscal years end at various periods throughout the year.

Once the monitoring system has identified local governments and school districts experiencing fiscal stress, an array of services will be offered by DiNapoli's office. These include budget reviews, technical financial assistance, guidance on multi-year financial planning, financial management publications and training.