2024-2025 NYS Regents State Aid Proposal: The Top 10 Line Items for New Funding

2024-2025 NYS Regents State Aid Proposal: The Top 10 Line Items for New Funding

In December, the New York State Board of Regents unveiled its proposed budget and legislative priorities for 2024-2025. Priorities focus on supporting lifelong learning, academic success, and improved outcomes; advancing equity, excellence, and access; and rebuilding the Department’s ability to support districts, teachers, students, and all New Yorkers. When it comes to new funding, here are the ten largest line items noted in the 2024-2025 Regents State Aid Proposal: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://www.regents.nysed.gov/sites/regents/files/1223bra4revised12.11.pdf

#10. $4.3 million for agency-wide infrastructure

With a goal of rebuilding the Department’s capacity to provide world-class customer service and improve supports for all stakeholders, proposed funding is for new staff (primarily in IT, but also HR and Finance) and the purchase of external technology and services to update basic technical infrastructure, support system security, replace outdated systems, support licensing, and more.

#9. $4.5 million to support English language learner assessments

This involves updating translations of all required assessments, parent materials, and public information; providing computer-based delivery of NYS English as a Second Language Achievement Tests and interim assessments; and better supporting students with disabilities who are also English Language Learners.

#8. $11.1 million for higher education opportunity programs

This allows more students to benefit from opportunity programs like the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), and Liberty Partnerships Programs (LPP). These programs make higher education possible for students who would otherwise not be able to attend due to economic and education circumstances; they also help prevent dropouts.

#7. $15.5 million for a Special Education Data System

Funding is for a project team and capital construction for an Office of Special Education new real-time data system to help the Department, local school districts, counties, and parents identify New York programs that can support the needs of students with disabilities. Over the long-term, a comprehensive and fully integrated system will help support and evaluate administrative and programmatic goals for New York’s special education system.

#6. $17 million for cultural education revenue stabilization

The purpose is to stabilize operational funding for the State Museum, State Library, State Archives, and Office of Public Broadcasting and Educational Television. Funding varies greatly year-to-year due to its dependence on macroeconomic conditions (including inflation) and a revenue stream based on a fee that has not changed in more than 20 years.

#5. $19 million to support special education provider residential programs

Funding will be used to help special education providers appropriately fund operations and improve the availability of residential placements for school-aged students. Funding would also make providers whole when tuition cannot be billed due to an adult (up to age 22) occupying a student placement because no suitable alternative is available.

#4. $20 million for juvenile justice hybrid programming

Funding is for the design and implementation of a statewide hybrid high school in collaboration with the Office of Children and Family Services for students in juvenile justice settings. Funding would cover the cost of staff (including certified teachers) and the costs of providing coursework online.

#3. $45 million for public library construction assistance

The State Aid for Library Construction program stretches local investment and helps ensure libraries serving economically disadvantaged communities can access capital funding for critical improvements.

#2. $70.5 million to provide a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) to Students with Disabilities until age 22

Funding will help meet legal requirements to provide special education and related services to resident students with disabilities until the day before a student’s 22nd birthday, unless they have already obtained a high school diploma. (Currently, state law only provides funding through the school year that a student turns 21.)

#1. $174 million for maintenance and/or construction of education buildings

Funds will be used to maintain and update buildings where staff work, like the State Education Building, and for maintenance or construction at five state-owned schools (the NYS School for the Blind, the NYS School for the Deaf, the Onondaga Nation School, the Tuscarora Nation School, and the St. Regis Mohawk Nation School). Specifically, $90 million will go to a new building at the St. Regis Mohawk School; however, this may be partially offset by funding provided for extensive maintenance work last year.

As for state aid, the proposal calls for an additional $1.6 billion for the 2024-25 school year to ensure an increase in funding for the state’s neediest districts ($926.8 million in Foundation Aid); to review and modernize the Foundation Aid formula ($343.4 Million); and to reimburse districts for other aid programs as per current law ($359.4 million), while providing relief for districts with sudden enrollment increases; aid for students with disabilities between ages 21 and 22; enhanced BOCES Aid and Special Services Aid for ninth grade; and streamlining of prekindergarten funding.

This discussion wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t take a moment to mention Governor Hochul’s proposed budget for 2024-2025. While the proposed budget would increase school funding by record amounts, proposed Foundation Aid falls short of what the Regents proposed and certain changes could have a significant impact on district budgets across the state.

As reported on Westchester News 12, “One-third of school districts in the Lower Hudson Valley region will see less state funding for education if the current 2025 fiscal year state budget proposal remains as is. Beacon, Greenwood Lake, Garrison, Pearl River, and Mount Vernon are among the 30 school districts in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester counties projected to get less from the state next year compared to this year.”

As we await finalization (the NYS budget is supposed to be approved April 1), please know that if you have any accounting, tax, audit, or advisory needs, RBT CPAs is here to support you. We’ve been serving school districts and higher education institutions in the Hudson Valley and beyond for over 50 years. Known for delivering an exceptional customer experience, as well as the upholding the highest levels of professionalism and ethics, the RBT team believes we succeed when we help you succeed. If you’re interested in learning more, give us a call.

 

RBT CPAs is proud to say 100% of its work is prepared in America. Our company does not offshore work, so you always know who is handling your confidential financial data.

REMINDER! GASB Statement 101 on Compensated Absences Effective After December 15, 2023

REMINDER! GASB Statement 101 on Compensated Absences Effective After December 15, 2023

It has been almost a year and a half since GASB 101 on compensated absences was issued to  standardize how compensated absences are recognized, measured and disclosed. It takes effect for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2023, although earlier application was encouraged. As a result of the Statement, governments will provide more consistent and comparable information about compensated absences. Here are the highlights….

Who does this impact?

All units of state and local government.

What is required?

A compensated absence liability is recognized for an unused leave attributable to services rendered if it accumulates; carries forward to a future reporting period; and is more likely than not to be used for time-off or paid for via cash or other means based on relevant factors like policies and historical information.

A liability is also recognized for a used leave that has not been paid for in cash or other means; in this case, the liability equals the amount of the cash or noncash settlement.

Measurement is based on an employee’s pay rate in effect on the financial reporting date, unless a compensated absence arrangement calls for a different rate at the time of payment (i.e., sick pay based on 50% of the employee’s pay rate). Salary-related payments – including the employer’s share of payroll related taxes, defined pension contributions and other post-employment benefit plans – are to be included as part of the compensated absence liability calculation.

Certain compensated absences like parental, military, and jury duty leave should be recognized as a liability when the leave starts. For other types, like paid time off, liability is recognized when the leave is used.

Also, certain financial disclosure requirements are changing. The funds that governments use to liquidate the liability for compensated absences do not have to be disclosed. Governments will now be allowed to disclose only the net change in the liability instead of the gross increases and decreases (as long as they identify it as a net change). Plus, financial statements must note consideration of Statement 101 and the adoption date.

When does it take effect?

Fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2023. So, if your municipality’s fiscal year ends this December 31, Statement 101 begins to apply starting January 1, 2024.

Why was the statement issued?

Per GASB.org, Statement 101 was issued “to better meet the information needs of financial statement users by updating the recognition and measurement guidance for compensated absences. That objective is achieved by aligning the recognition and measurement guidance under a unified model and by amending certain previously required disclosures.”

How to promote compliance.

Each government entity should consider which benefits are affected; how its accounting system will gather necessary information and perform calculations; whether internal control processes need to change; how accounting entries for compensated absences will be documented; and the impact on its financial statement.

If you need advice or assistance with your GASB 101 implementation or any other accounting, tax, and audit needs, please remember RBT CPAs is here to help. Give us a call to learn what we can do for you.

 

RBT CPAs is proud to say 100% of its work is prepared in America. Our company does not offshore work, so you always know who is handling your confidential financial data.

Teacher Pay Penalty Is Getting Worse

Teacher Pay Penalty Is Getting Worse

In 2022, public school teachers made 26.4% less than professionals with similar educations, a rate that hasn’t been seen since 1960, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). (Allegretto, Sylvia. “Teacher pay penalty still looms large.” September 29, 2023. https://www.epi.org/publication/teacher-pay-in-2022/#epi-toc-9.)

According to the report, the “pay penalty” has been growing significantly since the mid 90’s, when it was 6.1% and teachers were earning 93.9 cents for every dollar earned by other professionals. To put the financial impact of the pay penalty into perspective, when you compare the average weekly wage of public school teachers and similarly educated professionals, in 2022 teachers earned an average of $1,329 as compared to $2,167 for other college graduates or 73.6 cents for every dollar similarly educated professionals made.

Here’s another way to look at it: teachers earned an average of 73.6 cents for every dollar similarly educated professionals made. New York teachers are better off than teachers in many other states; its pay penalty reached 14.6% in 2022.

Inflation is not helping, resulting in a loss of $128 a week between 2021 and 2022 for teachers (as compared to an estimated loss of $3 for non-teaching professionals).

While many assert the pay penalty is eliminated by teachers’ generous benefit packages, the EPI report shows that’s simply not true. When you look at total compensation – benefits plus pay – the pay penalty drops to 17% for 2022. That is better than 26.4%, but still represents a significant gap with what counterparts in other professions make and as compared to the 2.7% that existed in 1993.

Upon reading this report, I was reminded of discussions during the late 80s about teacher pay. The education sector was advocating to boost teacher pay for two reasons: to attract the best and brightest people into teaching and to ensure they wouldn’t be financially penalized for joining the education sector rather than the corporate world.  The turnaround in the pay penalty achieved by the mid-90’s shows this line of thinking was working. Somewhere in the early 2000s it started losing momentum.

Fast forward. Sandy Hook and numerous other large-scale school shootings occurred, as did Covid. Technology and AI started changing at the speed of light. Politics, government mandates, and changing societal norms have taken on as much priority as teaching academics. All of this has dramatically increased the pressure on educational institutions and teachers. With the geopolitical unrest occurring in the world today, it’s only getting worse.

With a shrinking workforce, due largely to the mass retirement of Baby Boomers, the pay penalty exacerbates the challenge of building a pipeline of teacher talent for the future, while recruiting and retaining teachers today.

According to the report overview, there is a potential path to turn this around involving paying teachers more; providing more federal and state funding to schools; leveraging collective bargaining, and more. Personally, I wonder if there is an opportunity to educate the public about the pay, benefits, social, political, and other challenges teachers face so they are more informed going into budget voting season and discussions.

Undoubtedly, I’m preaching to the choir in writing this article and hope that some of the information garnered in the EPI report can prove useful as you chart the course for the years ahead.

In the words of the report’s author, Sylvia Allegretto, “One of our nation’s highest ideals is the promise to educate every child without regard to means. In many respects, we have always fallen short on that promise. And there are many issues to be addressed around public education and its funding. But one thing is for sure. A world-class public educational system cannot be accomplished without the best and the brightest heading our classrooms. And it cannot be done on the cheap.”

Please remember RBT CPAs is here to help with your accounting, tax, audit, or business advisory needs. Interested in learning more? Give us a call today.

RBT CPAs is proud to say 100% of its work is prepared in America. Our company does not offshore work, so you always know who is handling your confidential financial data.

New Incentive for New York Municipalities to Expand Affordable Housing

New Incentive for New York Municipalities to Expand Affordable Housing

If your municipality wants priority consideration for a number of New York State discretionary funds, it has to obtain Pro-Housing Community Certification.

Although attempts to gain support of affordable housing initiatives in New York faltered earlier this year, Governor Hochul remains committed to boosting affordable housing by 800,000 units within a decade. On August 31, the Pro-Housing Communities Program opened for business, providing financial incentives for municipalities to get on board with affordable housing growth. Municipalities that either meet affordable housing growth metrics or commit to the program’s principles will be rewarded by earning priority consideration for more than $650 million in state discretionary funds.

The press release announcing the program notes, “Certified Pro-Housing Communities will be considered first among localities applying for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI); NY Forward program;  Regional Council Capital Fund; capital projects from the Market New York program; New York Main Street program; Long Island Investment Fund (LIIF); Mid-Hudson Momentum Fund;  Public Transportation Modernization Enhancement Program (MEP); and any other funding where future appropriation language designates it as a Pro-Housing Community program.”

To apply for Pro-Housing Community Certification, an authorized official must email a letter of intent. Then, applicants must provide information on local zoning codes and housing permit approvals in the past five years in the templates provided. A municipality must show approval of permits increasing housing stock by 1% (downstate) or 0.33% (upstate) over the past year or permits increasing housing stock by 3% (downstate) or 1% (upstate) over the past 3 years. Within 90 days, the municipality will receive a decision about certification.

If your municipality hasn’t met housing growth requirements, it can still obtain certification by passing a defined Pro-Housing Resolution.

By March 31, of each year, localities must resubmit any zoning updates and housing permit data to remain certified. For the application and complete program details, click here.

This is just one of a number of executive actions the Governor is taking to address New York’s housing crisis. Additional actions include a program to advance residential projects halted by the expiration of 421-A in Gowanus; a requirement that state entities ID state-owned lands that may support housing; and a portal collecting and sharing community housing and zoning data.

In our neck of the woods, this summer, the City of Kingston bolstered its efforts related to affordable housing development by adopting a new form-based zoning code designed to make it easier for development to occur and establishing a Department of Housing Initiatives to support the City’s housing planning.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about how the lack of affordable housing impacts New York and its residents (or former residents), check out these articles from Pew Research and The Fiscal Policy Institute.

To free you up to focus on this, please know RBT CPAs is here to support all of your tax, audit, and advisory needs. Give us a call to learn how we can work together to promote your business success.

 

RBT CPAs is proud to say all our work is prepared in the U.S.A. – we never offshore. As a result, you get peace of mind that your operation’s financial and confidential information is handled by full-time, local staff who have met our high standards for quality, ethics, and professionalism.

New York’s Economy: An Update on the Ups and Downs

New York’s Economy: An Update on the Ups and Downs

Tax revenues are slowing. Spending is up.

Talk of an economic downturn continues, with a lot of speculation about when, how intense, and how long. What does all of this mean? Let’s take a look.

Starting with the NY State Budget

In May, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released an Enacted Budget Report for FY 2023-2024. Spending is increasing by 3%. Much of the increase represents recurring expenses (i.e., full funding of school Foundation Aid, mental health service investments, and increased funding for health care and human services workers). There’s also temporary budget increases for emergency rental assistance and the MTA.

While the state’s reserve funds of $6.26 billion will help, there could be challenges ahead due to the new recurring costs occurring at the same time Federal Covid aid ends and a possible economic downturn. To address a budget gap, tax increases and/or spending cuts may need to be on the agenda for future budget discussions.

Turning to Tax Revenues

For state fiscal year (SFY) 2022-2023, New York’s tax revenue was $2.9 billion more than expected, but $9.5 billion or 7.8% less than the prior year largely due to a decrease in personal income tax revenue.  For SFY 2023-2024, revenues are projected to decrease for the second year in a row by 3.9%, as temporary federal aid is depleted and tax collections decline.

While personal income tax revenues are down, sales revenues are up but slowing. In the first quarter of 2023, sales revenues increased 7.1% over the same period in 2022, but slowed as the quarter progressed (from 9.2% in January to .03% in March).

By May, state sales tax collections increased 1.1% over the prior year, making it the third consecutive month where growth was lower than 2%, which can make it tougher to maintain fiscal balance, especially since much of the increase was from NYC collections (in fact, 47 out of 57 counties experienced a decline). Click here to see Monthly Local Sales Tax Collections by County and Region.

Unemployment

New York’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.1% to 3.9% from May of 2022 through May of 2023, with a steady decrease from March through May of 2023. The state’s labor force grew from 9,633,295 in May of 2022 to 9,703,853 in May of 2023, which includes steady growth continuing March through May of 2023. This positive momentum echoes what is happening nationally. According to CNN.com, “Morgan Stanley seems to agree, telling clients that the May jobs report ‘continues to point to a soft landing for the economy,’ a Fed term for raising rates without triggering a recession.”

Inflation

As reported by CNBC.com, “Inflation slowed in May to the lowest rate in two years (4%), largely due to  declining energy (i.e., gas and electricity) prices, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Still, household budget items are up and there may be more inflationary pressure with more infrastructure projects getting underway.

Interest Rates

According to TheAscent.com, between May of 2022 and May of 2023, Federal Reserve interest rates increased from .75% – 1% to 5% – 5.25%. In other words, it’s more expensive to borrow money. The hope is periodic increases will help cool down inflation rather than lead us into a recession.

Recession?

On June 8, RSM reported, “We estimate a 75% probability of an economic downturn over the next 12 months. While that is significant, it also implies a 25% chance of a soft landing for the economy.”

Credit Rating

As shared on PIMCO.com, credit rating downgrades aren’t expected, but upgrades may slow down: “In the first quarter of 2023, Moody’s upgraded three times as many U.S. public finance credits than it downgraded… Local governments have seen similar upgrade momentum, even in cities like New York and Chicago that have projected budget deficits. Many have used unprecedented federal fiscal relief and better-than-expected tax collections to boost their reserves, and will likely benefit from the relative stability of property tax revenues.”

What Next?

For a while now, NY State Comptroller DiNapoli has regularly repeated the same message: “Being prepared for a slowdown is especially important in this uncertain economy.” If you agree and are looking for next steps, the Academy for New York State’s Local Officials is offering an upcoming webinar entitled “Multiyear Financial Planning” on July 19. It’s designed to “help local governments create an effective multiyear financial planning process that helps identify and manage potential fiscal difficulties before crises emerge.” The webinar discussion will include making good long-term revenue and expenditure projections; measuring benefits from proposed local actions; and documenting projections. Click here to register. 

While you’re focusing on staying up to speed on all of the factors impacting your municipality’s finances, you can trust RBT CPAs professionals to hand your accounting, tax, audit, and advisory service needs. RBT CPAs is here to help you succeed — give us a call.

 

RBT CPAs is proud to say all of its work is prepared in the U.S.A.  We never outsource outside the U.S.A.

New York’s Environmental Bond Act: Progress to Date

New York’s Environmental Bond Act: Progress to Date

As the six-month anniversary of the passing of New York’s Environmental Bond Act approaches, two questions come to mind: “How much progress has been made?” and “What’s next?”

In November of 2022, the $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act was overwhelmingly approved by New York voters to promote water quality, reduce pollution, and protect natural resources and communities from the effects of climate change. The Act will give state agencies and local governments access to funding, while providing leverage to take advantage of other state and Federal funding sources as well. The state has committed to ensuring at least 35% of funds – with a goal of 40% — go to disadvantaged communities.

According to GothamGazette (Geringer-Sameth, Ethan. February 13, 2023): “State officials expect to issue the first bonds under the $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins April 1.” Between April of 2023 and March of 2024, $100 million is expected to be financed. Still, spending oversight, administration, staffing, and infrastructure are in development.

To get the ball rolling, the Hochul administration charged the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) with leading a group of eight state agencies to set the criteria and guidelines for funding. The agencies involved include the DEC, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Environmental Facilities Corporation; Department of Agriculture and Markets; Department of Transportation; Department of State; Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation; Adirondack Park Agency; Office of General Services; and Homes and Community Renewals.

According to NY.gov’s webpage on the act, “Governor Hochul directed an inter-agency working group to begin identifying needs for environmental funding across the State. The group will develop program logistics, including how projects will be selected and how funds will be delivered, through a transparent and collaborative process.” Next, the state will embark on an Educational Listening Tour to discuss what the Bond Act will fund and get input on criteria for potential projects.

It looks like progress is already underway for clean water infrastructure projects, which can leverage the infrastructure already set up for Water Infrastructure Improvement (WIIA) and Intermunicipal Grants (IMG) programs. On March 15, the Environmental Facilities Corporation announced proposed eligibility guidelines and is inviting public comment through 5 p.m. on April 14 (submit written comments to Máire Cunningham at NYSWaterGrants@efc.ny.gov or 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12207).

No doubt, more information will be forthcoming soon. While your municipality prepares to help your community maximize these and Federal funds, RBT CPAs is here to partner with you on your accounting, tax, audit and advisory service needs. We’re one of the leading accounting firms in the Hudson Valley and we believe we succeed when we help you succeed. To learn more, give us a call.

GASB 96 Kicks Off in 2023: What to Know & Do

GASB 96 Kicks Off in 2023: What to Know & Do

Along with the new year comes the start date of a new accounting and reporting requirement – namely, GASB 96, which arose as a result of migration from legacy IT systems (requiring the purchase of a license or title) to cloud-based solutions (requiring subscriptions).

If your fiscal year started July 1, 2022 or later, your financial statement must reflect GASB 96.

Who is subject to GASB 96? All state and local government entities. This includes general purpose governments, public benefit corporations and authorities, public employee retirement systems, public utilities, hospitals and other healthcare providers, and colleges and universities.

What does it cover? Subscription-based information technology arrangements (SBITAs). A SBITA is “a contract that conveys control of the right to use another party’s (a SBITA vendor’s) information technology (IT) software, alone or in combination with tangible capital assets (the underlying IT assets), as specified in the contract for a period of time in an exchange or exchange-like transaction.” (Source: GASB Summary of Statement No. 96)  Examples include office, calendar and email tools; online conferencing or payment tools; cloud computing arrangements; cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning systems; and more.

In addition to subscription payments, costs can be accounted for based on whether they were part of a preliminary project, initial implementation, or operational and additional implementation stage. (Training costs should be expensed when they’re incurred, regardless of stage.)

Short-term SBITAs – defined as having a maximum possible term, including options to extend – to 12 months or less are excluded from GASB 96.

What needs to be disclosed? Information including the amount of the subscription asset, accumulated amortization, other payments not included in the measurement of a subscription liability, principal and interest requirements for the subscription liability, and more.

When do we need to get started? If you haven’t already, get started now – it’s especially important if your fiscal year end is June 30, 2023 or September 30, 2023. As was the case for GASB 87 Lease Standards, you need time to gather and analyze all SBITA-related contracts to not only determine which ones fall under GASB 96, but also their components. If a contract has multiple components, each component should be accounted for as a separate SBITA or non-subscription component, with contract prices allocated accordingly (unless a best estimate price allocation can’t be determined; then, it can be treated as one SBITA).

Why did the Government Accounting Standards Board adopt GASB 96? The Board adopts standards when the costs incurred “are justified when compared to the overall public benefit.” In this case, perceived benefits include more consistent accounting and reporting and more comparable information about SBITAs. In addition, certain aspects of GASB 96 provide cost relief, like the exclusion of “contracts with stand-alone tangible capital assets and contracts with a combination of a tangible capital asset and an insignificant software component”; the ability to “report a multi-component contract as a single SBITA when determining that a best estimate to allocate the contract price to multiple components is not practicable; and permitting but not requiring “governments to include capitalizable outlays associated with the initial implementation stage and the operation and additional implementation stage in the measurement of the subscription asset recognized at transition.” (Source: GASB Summary of Statement No. 96)

For additional information, refer to these Federal and New York State resources:

You may also want to consider vetting and possibly using a GASB 96 platform or software service as a resource.

2023 is going to be a big year in terms of GASB changes and compliance. Get peace of mind that your municipality complies by partnering with an accounting, tax, audit, and advisory firm you can trust. RBT CPAs has been serving municipal clients in the Hudson Valley and beyond for over 50 years. Give us a call and let’s see what we can do for you.

What To Know About GASB Changes Taking Effect in 2023

What To Know About GASB Changes Taking Effect in 2023

As you start your 2023 planning, make sure Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) changes taking effect next year are on your radar. Following are some highlights…

GASB Statement No. 96 (Subscription Based IT Arrangement or SBITA). A SBITA is a contract that gives one the right to use another party’s IT software for a defined period in an exchange or exchange-like transaction. Examples include cloud computing arrangements; Enterprise Resource Planning systems; online conferencing or payment tools; as well as email, calendar, and office tools. The standard is similar to 2022 implementation for leases and takes effect for fiscal year 2023 reporting.

GASB Statement No. 94 (Public-Private and Public-Public Partnerships and Availability Payment Arrangements). GASB No. 94 defines PPP as an arrangement where a government (the transferor) contracts with an operator for public services by giving the right to operate or use a non-financial asset (i.e., infrastructure) for a period in an exchange or exchange-like transaction. The transferor can change and approve which services the operator provides, to whom, and prices that can be charged. What’s more, the transferor is entitled to residual interest in the service utility of the PPP asset at the end of the arrangement. There are other special arrangements for SCAs and APAs. GASB No. 94 takes effect for fiscal year 2023 reporting.

GASB Statement No. 100 (Accounting Changes and Error Corrections). This amendment of No. 62 takes effect fiscal years starting June 15, 2023. (Earlier adoption is encouraged.) GASB No. 100 defines accounting changes as changes in accounting principles, changes in estimates, and/or changes to or within the financial reporting entity. Implementation of changes/corrections must be identified as prospective or retrospective. Prior period financial statements must be restated. Financial statements must display the aggregate amount of adjustments to and restatements of beginning net position, fund balance, or fund net position by reporting unit.

Required supplementary information (RSI) – like Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) for earlier periods than those included in basic financial statements – should be restated for error corrections – but is not required for changes in accounting principles.

Financial reporting entity changes should be reported by adjusting the current period’s beginning balances. Estimated changes should be recognized in the current period and reported prospectively.

Finally, financial statements should reflect the organization has adopted Statement No. 100 provisions; note disclosures detailing changes, errors, impacts on starting balances; and highlight why the new methods are preferable (i.e., understandability, reliability, relevance, timeliness, consistency, and/or comparability). Financial statements must note consideration of Statement 100, as well as the date of adoption.

GASB Statement No. 101 Enhancements to compensated absence recognition, measurement and disclosure requirements take effect fiscal years starting December 15, 2023. (Earlier adoption is encouraged).

Statement No. 16 (Accounting for Compensated Absences) is being replaced by Statement No. 101 (Compensated Absences) to reflect paid time off practices (including vacation and sick time) in today’s workplace. The enhanced standards focus on recognition, measurement, and reporting.

Under Statement No. 101, an unused leave liability (including sick leave) will be recognized if the leave is attributed to services rendered; accumulates; and is likely to be used for time off or paid/settled. This applies even if the leave hasn’t been used or has been used but hasn’t been paid/settled. One exception: for parental and military leaves, as well as jury duty, liability is recognized at the start of the leaves/duty.

Measurement will be based on an employee’s pay rate in effect on the financial reporting date, unless a compensated absence arrangement calls for a different pay rate at the time of payment (for example, sick pay based on 50% of the employee’s pay rate). As is the case under GASB 16, salary related payments – including the employer’s share of payroll related taxes, defined pension contributions, and other post-employment benefit plans – should be part of the compensated absence liability calculation.

Finally, certain requirements are being eliminated or made optional for financial disclosures. The government funds used to liquidate liability for compensated absences will not have to be disclosed. Also, governments can choose how to identify increases and decreases in long-term liability change, as either gross or net amounts. Financial statements must note consideration of Statement 101, as well as the date of adoption.

For complete details, visit the GASB website at www.gasb.org or give RBT CPAs a call. We’re a leading accounting, tax, and audit firm in the Hudson Valley and beyond. We pride ourselves on our knowledge and application of accounting rules for government organizations. 2023 is going to be a big year in terms of GASB changes and compliance. Get peace of mind that your municipality complies by partnering with a firm you can trust. Give RBT CPAs a call today.

Save Your Energy – Taxpayers Will Thank You

Save Your Energy – Taxpayers Will Thank You

With all the financial uncertainties that exist today, no doubt your constituents would be pleased to know your municipality is doing its part to bring down costs and operate responsibly by conducting an energy audit.

As an added benefit, your actions can serve as an example and help others in your community save, while living greener and cleaner.

Energy Star, EPA sets the standard for energy audits.

According to its website, it “has helped dozens of state and local governments design and implement voluntary policies and programs focused on commercial and multifamily buildings to save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate local economic growth. And for the dozens of governments that have chosen to pass laws requiring the use of Portfolio Manager and ENERGY STAR metrics, EPA has provided expert advice on the most appropriate use of the program’s tools and resources.”

Its online benchmarking tool helps you create a comprehensive energy management program by identifying buildings to target for improvements; learning best practices; prioritizing investments; verifying savings; reporting performance; and more. It can also help you measure and track water use, waste and materials, and greenhouse gas emissions. As an added benefit, making improvements can help maintain the integrity of municipal buildings and decrease the need for more costly updates in the future. (Here’s an overview of how the program benefits local and state governments and policymakers.)

While you’re at it, check out the resources available through the Hudson Valley Regional Council, mid-Hudson’s representative for the NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities Institute (CECI).

While reducing energy costs, CECI actions can help move your municipality forward in supporting and driving clean energy goals. “NYSERDA developed a list of high-impact actions that local governments can take to save energy, cut costs, and earn designation.” Earn points for grant funding with a variety of programs:

  • Make it easier and faster to install solar in your community. View Toolkit
  • Improve energy code compliance for new and renovated buildings. View Toolkit
  • Establish a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing program. View Toolkit
  • Save energy and money by replacing old equipment with new smart and efficient technology. View Toolkit
  • Convert a municipal facility to all electric with ground- or air-source heat pumps. View Toolkit
  • Purchase renewable energy for municipal electricity needs. View Toolkit
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions. View Toolkit
  • Reduce streetlight energy use by up to 65% with energy-efficient LED lighting. View Toolkit
  • Need new vehicles? Go electric. View Toolkit
  • Adopt a policy that requires annual reporting of energy used in buildings. Set up a system for measuring and sharing energy use data to help identify opportunities to cut energy waste and associated costs. View Toolkit
  • Engage your community with a campaign promoting solar, clean heating, and cooling and energy efficiency. Action grants are eligible up to $60K. View Toolkit
  • County-hosted training on how to manage clean energy development in your community. View Toolkit
  • Choose your community’s energy supply, negotiate lower rates, and support the use of renewable resources. View Toolkit

For detailed information on each of these actions, including requirements and recommendations, or to determine which actions are right for you, read the Guidance Document [PDF] or contact your Clean Energy Community Coordinator.

While you’re focusing on how to help your municipality and ultimately taxpayers save money on energy, you can count on RBT CPAs to get the numbers right. We’re a leading accounting, tax and audit firm in the Hudson Valley and beyond, that believes we succeed when we help you succeed. Give us a call today.

Are You Monitoring Inflation Impact?

Are You Monitoring Inflation Impact?

Despite the costs for goods and services being at historic highs, state and local governments are in a solid place to withstand the many economic headwinds blowing their way; still, it appears best to proceed with caution.

The Good

Most municipalities are in good shape with strong rainy day reserve funds thanks to Federal programs like the American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. Add to that benefits from increased sales revenues and a hot housing market (although signs are pointing to it cooling down), and state and local governments are in as good a place as any to weather economic and financial storms.

Earlier this year, the Volkner Alliance and Penn Institute for Urban Research hosted a briefing on inflation and recession risks. Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi said, “State and local governments are in good shape to navigate whatever … path we go down.’’ New York Governor Hochul reiterated this mid-year, indicating the state is prepared for the worst and in a good position to weather downturns. According to the National League of Cities, Federal programs have bolstered cities’ ability to deal with inflation and “led to consistent spending for normal government operations and services, helping local governments keep their communities running with minimal interruption.”

The Bad

The cost of capital projects and services is up and while a certain amount of inflation is factored into estimates and budgets, the current environment is prompting questions about whether projects started can be finished; whether projects should be cut or delayed; and whether there are other funding that can help keep projects moving. At the same time, some municipalities are experiencing low-to-no responses for construction Request for Proposals (RFPs) and are finding it tough to compete with so many other options available to construction companies that are more flexible and don’t include fixed budgets.

Then there are salary, pension, and other benefit costs – they’re going up and not an option as municipalities compete with the private sector to attract and retain much-needed talent. How far they go and whether they’re sustainable remains to be seen.

Will It Get Ugly?

It depends on what happens next and how well-prepared each municipality is.

There are potential impacts on credit. As reported by S&P Global, how credit quality is pressured depends on “the duration of elevated inflation growth” and “state law and revenue mix.” Overall, municipalities could see higher social service spending, but should be able to withstand pressures on credit quality at least in the short term.

Increases in food insecurity are already occurring, and there are expectations that Medicaid and unemployment trust fund costs may go up. Increasing benefit costs for retirees and existing employees could seriously impact future pension liabilities. Whether there are local income taxes, capital gains tax revenue, caps on annual revenue increases, debt and other factors also come into play.

As reported by the  Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, rural areas are feeling inflation more than urban areas, so municipalities may be experiencing differences depending on location. An Iowa State University report reiterated this finding, noting that those living in non-metro areas with populations under 2,500 or in the countryside are struggling more than their urban counterparts.

Disparities based on the demographics are also coming into play. NBC News reported, “A recent study from University of California San Diego found minority households are being hit especially hard because they spend a larger portion of their income on essentials like housing, electricity, transportation, and food.”

In some states, like New York, residents are taking things into their own hands, migrating to lower-tax states in bigger numbers, having the potential to negatively impact sales and tax revenues now and in the long term.

Still, as reported in the weekly Deloitte Insights issued August 15, July inflation showed signs of slowing; producer prices are decelerating, and labor costs may not be as bad as some think. Month to month and even week to week, the story changes. Whether things end up good, bad, or ugly remains to be seen. For now, the consensus is municipalities are in as good a place as any for what comes next.

Remember, RBT CPAs is an accounting, tax, and audit partner you can depend on through good times and challenging ones. If you need a trusted partner that provides the highest levels of professionalism, service, and value, give us a call.