State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has announced a “fiscal stress monitoring system” to provide an early warning of problems in local governments and school districts, which can only be a good idea. DiNapoli’s office also issued a report analyzing economic and fiscal trends in cities from 1980 to 2010.

A key finding:

The largest cost drivers for cities over the past 30 years have been personal service costs as well as health insurance and workers compensation. Pension costs have increased in recent years due to poor market conditions. Health care costs have risen significantly since the 1980s. Not surprisingly, given the economic backdrop for many cities, the above indicators show that many of New York’s cities, especially in upstate New York, are undergoing significant fiscal stress. In addition, some other cities with stronger economic bases are also experiencing problems, primarily as a result of poor management decisions, such as an over-reliance on non-recurring revenues, to balance budgets.

There some are interesting numbers in the report, including estimates of per-capita expenditure and personal income growth for cities during the 30-year period. Unfortunately, the total numbers may be somewhat distorted and comparisons hampered by the apparent inclusion of school budgets for the four cities in the sample (Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Yonkers) that have fiscally dependent school districts. Comparing those cities in isolation, Yonkers had the higher rate of per-capita spending growth, but Syracuse had the largest discrepancy between spending and income.

cities-chart-sept2012-8506696
Source: Office of the State Comptroller

In other developments, Moody’s has assigned a “negative” outlook to its credit rating for Syracuse — a move that drew criticism from former Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch.

Meanwhile, as noted here last week, Governor Cuomo continues to distance himself from the situation, suggesting he favors “individual” assistance rather than a comprehensive approach to the fiscal problems of localities.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

Remembering the scandal that brought down Health Commissioner Howard Zucker

The resignation of Dr. Howard Zucker as state health commissioner marks the end of a term marred by scandal over his role in managing the coronavirus pandemic. The much-debated compelling nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients, though it origi Read More

After 10 weeks, all but five of the Empire Center’s 63 requests for pandemic data remain unfulfilled

Over the 10 days that Hochul has been in office, there has been no further progress on the Empire Center's record requests. Read More

New York’s health benefits remain the second-costliest in the U.S.

New York's health benefit costs increased faster than the national average in 2020, leaving it with the second-least affordable coverage in the U.S. The state's average total cost f Read More

Another Hochul To-Do: Timely Financial Reporting

The state will spend a record $212 billion in the current 2022 Fiscal Year, under the budget its elected leaders adopted in April. Read More

Can Cuomo still be impeached?

Andrew Cuomo and Donald Trump have more in common than boyhood homes in Queens. Like Trump, Cuomo could still face impeachment and an impeachment trial despite a promise to resign as Governor later this month. Read More

The Gov’s pension

There are several (dozens? hundreds?) of unanswered questions as the fallout from Andrew Cuomo's resignation earlier today continues. Among those are questions related to his pension, some of which can be answered, sort of. Read More

The Health Department’s FOIL Responses Signal an Indefinite Wait for Pandemic Data

The quest for comprehensive data on New York's coronavirus pandemic hit a bureaucratic roadblock this week Read More

A Study of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes Raises Doubt About New York’s Minimum Staffing Law

A newly published study of COVID-19 in nursing homes links larger numbers of employees to higher rates of infection and death for residents – raising fresh doubts about New York's recently enacted "safe staffing" law. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!