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Publications: Research Reports

Since 2003, the Division has been using the information OSC collects from local governments to produce research reports on major policy issues facing local governments and state policy-makers. Published under the Issues in Focus series, as brief bulletins on hot topics or as stand-alone reports, these publications help inform the public policy debate with data and analysis.

2015
Local Government Snapshot - Local Sales Tax Collection Growth Slows Significantly in First Half of 2015

Local Government Snapshot - Local Sales Tax Collection Growth Slows Significantly in First Half of 2015 [Released 07/24/15]

In the first half of 2015, total local sales tax collections in New York State grew by only about half of the 3.0 percent growth seen in all of 2014 and nearly two thirds less than the 4.2 percent average annual growth experienced over the previous 15 years. Sales tax revenue declined in half of the regions in the State, with the sharpest decline being in the North Country, which saw a 2.5 percent drop. [read complete Local Sales Tax Collection - pdf] | [read county-by-city data - pdf]

Local Government Snapshot - Tax Cap Tightens As Inflation Drops: Local Governments Will Need to Prepare for Little or No Levy Growth

Local Government Snapshot - Tax Cap Tightens As Inflation Drops: Local Governments Will Need to Prepare for Little or No Levy Growth [Released 07/20/15]

Based on Consumer Price Index data, the downward trend in inflation means that local governments operating on a December 31 fiscal year end will see the inflation factor decrease to 0.73 percent, causing a significant reduction over prior years in the allowable levy growth factor, an important component of their tax cap calculation. OSC estimates that these calendar year local governments will have roughly $135.1 million less than they would have had if the factor was at 2 percent. [read complete Tax Cap Tightens - pdf]

Local Government Snapshot - County Tax Cap Recap: Fewer Counties Exceeding Levy Limits

Local Government Snapshot - County Tax Cap Recap: Fewer Counties Exceeding Levy Limits [Released 06/18/15]

In 2015, the number of counties exceeding the tax cap decreased substantially and only six counties exceeded the cap—a decrease of 54 percent from 2014. Among the counties that stayed within the tax levy limit in 2015, many have levied right up to the limit. Of these 51 counties, 23 levied taxes that amounted to 99 percent or more of their allowable tax levy limit. This may be due in part to the newly enacted Property Tax Freeze Credit. [read complete County Tax Cap Recap - pdf] | [County Tax Cap Data as of April 30, 2015 - Excel]

Fiscal Stress Close-Up: Short-Term Debt

Fiscal Stress Close-Up: Short-Term Debt [Released 06/17/15]

While there are some exceptions, a heavy or ongoing reliance on short-term debt tools indicates that a local government has cash flow issues that are not being resolved. The presence of short-term debt as an indicator of fiscal stress is measured in OSC's Fiscal Stress Monitoring System. Counties and school districts are by far the biggest issuers of short-term debt, typically using it to bridge financial gaps caused by poor timing of revenue receipts. [read complete Short-Term Debt Report - pdf]

Other Fiscal Stress Close-Up Reports:

[Cash/Liquidity - pdf] | [Fixed Costs - pdf] | [Fund Balance - pdf] | [Operating Deficits - pdf]

Annual Performance Report on New York State's Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2013

Annual Performance Report on New York State's Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2013 [Released 05/18/15]

IDAs are important for economic development in the State, but local officials need to improve their scrutiny over projects so that taxpayers know if their community is receiving promised jobs and economic benefits. Recent audits have found deficiencies in IDA processes for approving and monitoring projects, as well as for recouping benefits from projects that have failed to meet their goals. [read complete Annual Performance Report on New York State's Industrial Development Agencies - Fiscal Year Ending 2013 - pdf]

Local Authorities in New York State - An Overview

Local Authorities in New York State - An Overview [Released 04/09/15]

The State has approximately 639 local authorities operating outside of New York City. These authorities generally operate without many of the constraints and controls over day-to-day operations required of municipal governments. OSC audits have helped to shine a light on questionable practices from board member compensation to the selection and results of economic development projects. OSC continues to advocate for express audit authority over LDCs and other not-for-profit local authorities, better reporting requirements for all local authorities and legislation to achieve more transparent results. [read complete Local Authorities in New York State - An Overview - pdf]

Local Government Sales Taxes in New York State: 2015 Update

Local Government Sales Taxes in New York State: 2015 Update [Released 03/24/15]

The sales tax generates 8 percent of all local government revenues in New York State and 27 percent of county revenues. This report examines the general sales and use tax imposed for local governments in the State. It covers the sales tax rates in counties and cities, and trends in sales tax revenues for local governments. It also includes an up-to-date county-level summary of sales tax sharing arrangements and discusses recent activity in the taxation of Internet sales. [read complete Local Government Sales Taxes in New York State: 2015 Update report - pdf]

Local Government Snapshot - February 2015 - Three Years of the Tax Cap - Impact on School Districts

Local Government Snapshot: Three Years of the Tax Cap - Impact on School Districts [Released 02/09/15]

The number of school districts overriding the tax cap has declined each year. In general, school districts’ decisions to override the tax cap were based, at least in part, on necessity. When examining the relationship between fiscal stress and tax cap overrides, we found that fiscally stressed school districts were nearly three times more likely to override the tax cap when compared to school districts that were not designated as stressed. [read complete Three Years of the Tax Cap report - pdf]| [2013-2015 Tax Cap Data - Excel]

Local Government Snapshot - Local Sales Tax Collection Growth Slows to 3 Percent in 2014; Slowest Growth Since 2009

Snapshot: Local Sales Tax Collection Growth Slows to 3 Percent in 2014; Slowest Growth Since 2009 [Released 02/03/15]

Local sales tax growth was slower in 2014 than in any year since the 2008-2009 recession, in part due to slow growth in the first quarter of the year. Long Island collections declined, some upstate counties had strong growth due to increased sales tax rates, and New York City's growth was relatively strong. [read complete Growth in Local Sales Tax Collections report - pdf] | [read county-by-county data - pdf]