New York State’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System helps counties, cities, towns, villages, and school districts check vital signs for fiscal health and, when appropriate, proactively take action to address and fix issues. Take a moment to get acquainted (or reacquainted) with the tools and resources the state offers to monitor, act (when appropriate), and maintain strong fiscal health.
The Fiscal Stress Monitoring System was created by New York State Comptroller Thomas P DiNapoli in 2012 and is a lot like an annual physical. During an annual physical, a doctor collects information about certain key health factors; tracks and compares that information year to year; and, using baseline data, either helps the individual fix any issues or refers him/her for more specialized care to manage a condition. The state’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System works much the same way. It provides an early warning to local officials and residents to indicate when action is needed to manage potential risks to finances, property taxes, and essential services.
Based on financial factors, fiscal stress scores are assigned and reported publicly. Financial indicators include year-end fund balance, short-term cash-flow borrowing, cash position and operating deficit patterns.
Stress scores using data from Annual Financial Reports for fiscal years ending 2021 have started to be reported via a press release and lists posted on the comptroller’s website. (School district scores were released in January.) A second, separate analysis of environmental factors using US Census Bureau data provides insight into a local government’s or school district’s economic health and other challenges.
In addition to these reports, insights from the Office of the Comptroller can highlight points of focus for local municipalities. As noted in a recent press release, “The financial landscape for many local governments has improved with the infusion of federal aid and stronger economic activity,” DiNapoli said. “The relief funds are temporary, so it is critical that local communities make changes, including carefully managing debt and engaging in long-term planning, that help improve their financial outlook for years down the road.”
Beyond the fiscal stress report, the Office of the Comptroller provides:
- A self-assessment tool – which can be especially helpful during budget planning processes – so local officials can determine stress scores using current and future financial assumptions.
- Numerous live and on-demand webinars on a variety of topics from budgeting, financial planning, and procurement to capital planning, audits, taxes, and more.
- Reference guides, research reports, and other resources.
- A Financial Toolkit, which provides targeted information, tools, and training to address potential challenges and issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- New York Open Book, a site that tracks state and local spending and makes public financial records, state contracts, and other commonly requested data.
If you prefer more personalized guidance on finance and accounting, remember, RBT CPAs is available to help. We’re one of the Hudson Valley’s leading accounting firms and we have extensive experience working with local governments and school districts. Give us a call.