The Empire Center today released its annual “Benchmarking New York” report, comparing and ranking government tax, spending and debt levels for hundreds of counties, towns, cities and villages throughout New York.
The Center also updated its unique online Benchmarking New York web app, which lets users compare detailed rankings of major fiscal indicators for any municipality alone, or for up to four localities at a time. The online database—the most extensive comparable local database of its kind in New York—also includes statewide and regional rankings of each municipality by type in dozens of revenue and spending categories.
“Benchmarking is a powerful tool that allows New Yorkers to see how each of their local governments’ spending practices compare to others,” said Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center. “It breaks down the revenues and expenses across more than 100 categories, and lets users make apples-to-apples comparisons of how each layer of local government is collecting and spending public money.”
The tool uses statistics gathered annually by the Office of the State Comptroller and Empire Center calculations to provide taxpayers with benchmarks that allow comparisons between local governments using more than 100 criteria. The categories range from state aid and tax receipts to public safety spending and sanitation costs. The per-capita data, from each local government’s 2015 fiscal year, show:
- Among the five largest cities outside New York City, Rochester had the highest spending ($2,967), Albany had the highest effective property tax rate (1.31 percent) and Yonkers had the most debt ($2,819) and collected the most taxes ($1,508).
- Nassau County had the highest debt among counties, owing $3,045 per resident.
- White Plains charged the most fines among cities, collecting $150 per resident, more than 50 percent greater than the next highest, Yonkers, which collected $92.
A small number of local governments, such as the town of Oyster Bay in Nassau County, are not included because they failed to report data to the state comptroller’s office.
The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies to make New York a better place to live, work and do business.