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September 27, 2019

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli issues report on local governments identified as under financial stress

Urging local communities to engage in more long-term planning, on September 27, 2019 State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli issued reports concerning 25 local governments in fiscal stress identified under DiNapoli's Fiscal Stress Monitoring System (FSMS). Included are eight counties, nine cities, seven towns and one village. Ten of those municipalities are in the highest ranking designation of “significant fiscal stress.”

The Comptroller said “For those in fiscal stress, effective long-term planning is critical for charting a better path. These municipalities should use the tools my office provides and engage the public in those difficult, but important, discussions about community priorities.”

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The latest round of scores, released today, are based on financial information reported to DiNapoli’s office by local governments operating on a calendar year basis (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31). In New York that includes all counties and towns, 44 cities and 10 villages.

Eight municipalities designated to be in “significant fiscal stress” in this scoring round are in the same category for the second year in a row. They are: the large downstate counties of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, the cities of Niagara Falls and Poughkeepsie and the towns of German Flatts, Parish and Oyster Bay. The city of Elmira and the village of Islandia were designated as being in “significant fiscal stress” for the first time.

Monroe County and the town of Clarkstown are designated as being under “moderate stress” in 2018. The counties of Broome, Franklin, Montgomery and Onondaga, the cities of Plattsburgh, Albany, Glen Cove, Little Falls, Watervliet, Tonawanda  and the towns of Dayton, Colonie and Little Valley were designated as being “susceptible to fiscal stress.”

DiNapoli’s monitoring system, implemented in 2013, evaluates local governments on financial indicators and creates fiscal stress scores. Indicators assess year-end fund balance, cash-on-hand, short-term borrowing, fixed costs and patterns of operating deficits. 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 environment in which these local governments operate.

In March, DiNapoli issued scores for all non-calendar year local governments, mostly villages, and found seven villages and three cities in fiscal stress.

The Comptroller also released a reporton the challenges faced by local governments in stress. The report looked at all 35 local governments in stress, regardless of when their fiscal year ended and found:  

Cities were the most likely to be in fiscal stress in FYE 2018. Almost 23 percent (12 out of 53 cities scored) were designated in some level of fiscal stress, up from 14.5 percent (eight of 55 scored) designated in stress in FYE 2017.

Counties also had a relatively high rate of stress, with just over 14 percent (eight of the 56 counties scored) found to be in some level of fiscal stress in FYE 2018. However, this is a decrease from the nearly 18 percent (10 of 56 scored) in fiscal stress in FYE 2017.

Only seven of 853 towns scored (less than 1 percent) and eight of 485 villages scored (less than 2 percent) were in fiscal stress, which is similar to FYE 2017 results.

This year, more local governments did not file their financial data with the Comptroller’s office in time to be included in the fiscal stress scores (139 in total), including the cities of Ithaca, Syracuse and Newburgh, which had each filed for FYE 2017.

The report 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.

Most local governments (almost 98 percent of those that filed) were not in a stress category. However, a “no designation” rating does not necessarily indicate an absence of fiscal stress. Local officials should review their FSMS results, including performance on individual indicators, to identify potential risk areas and develop a plan to address problem areas.

For a list of municipalities in stress for fiscal year ending in 2018:

To sort fiscal scores by year and entity name, visit:

For more detailed information about the Comptroller’s fiscal stress monitoring system, visit:

For municipalities that have not filed or designated inconclusive, visit:

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