DiNapoli: Settlement Funds Boost State’s Coffers

moneyThe state took in less tax revenue than projected by the Division of Budget, about $17.7 million lower, account to a report released on Friday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Still, the July cash report from the comptroller found the tax revenue is more than $1 billion higher than initially forecasted by budget officials.

The fund balance overall remains at “historical levels” at $9.6 billion — fueled in part by the one-shot settlement funds. All-funds receipts, totaling just under $49.5 billion through July 31, were $1.6 billion higher than initially estimated due to the financial settlements.

“Personal Income Tax collections remain strong, and one-time settlement funds have temporarily boosted available funds,” DiNapoli said. “However, due to increased collections from historically volatile sources and the one-shot nature of billions of dollars in settlement proceeds, it is important to closely monitor results as the year progresses to ensure the state’s fiscal picture stays on track.” More >

DiNapoli, In Op/Ed, Call For Broad Public Financing Program

dinapoliComptroller Tom DiNapoli in an op/ed on Wednesday in The Times Union called the decision to not participate in a one-off public financing program for his race “one of the hardest decisions of my career.”

In the essay, DiNapoli reiterated his call for a statewide system of publicly financed campaigns, but also provides his most extensive explanation to date for why he did not participate in the program.

His Republican opponent, Bob Antonacci, ultimately sought public matching dollars, but did not raise enough money to qualify for the program. DiNapoli handily won re-election last year.

“The legislation was sloppy, inadequate and unsound in so many ways that good government groups that had spent decades fighting for this change were outraged and encouraged me to reject it,” DiNapoli wrote in the op/ed. “In the end, I agreed with the advocates and chose not to participate in the pilot. There were too many signs that the program was doomed from the start. Perhaps it was designed to fail.” More >

Market Tumble Won’t Impact Pension Fund For Now, DiNapoli Says

dinapoli1The slide in the stock market on Monday won’t impact the state’s $182.5 billion pension fund in the short term, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said in a radio interview.

“We have the advantage of being a well-funded plan as well,” DiNapoli said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom. “Like all investors we don’t like when the market goes down, but we’re not in a position where we have an immediate reaction to it.”

The U.S. markets are falling by hundreds of points on Monday following a cool down in the international market, including a massive sell down in the Chinese market.

The sell off in the U.S. market comes after a strong bull market in the wake of the recession and a massive gain made over the course of the first seven months of the year. More >

DiNapoli: Pension Fund Value Falls During Weak Growth

dinapoli1The state pension fund during the first quarter of the fiscal year recorded a 0.52 percent rate of return, giving the fund an estimate value of $182.5 billion, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office on Friday announced.

The relatively flat growth in the state retirement fund was blamed on a “challenging investment climate” DiNapoli said.

“Nevertheless, New York’s pension fund remains strong and well-positioned for the future with a smart, long-term investment strategy,” DiNapoli said. More >

BOE Report Assesses The One-Time Public Financing Program

dinapoliA report released this week by the Board of Elections provides an assessment on the one-time public financing program for the state comptroller’s race in which none of the major and minor party candidates actually received any matching funds.

The results for the board were inconclusive, given that none of the candidates for comptroller actually received any matching funds for their campaigns, the board found.

“The State Board was prepared to administer the entire program but anticipated potential problems with a full program roll out because of the extremely short implementation timeframe,” the report concludes. “With no qualified participant or full program implementation, it is difficult and somewhat impractical for the Board to make comments to improve the program.”

In the seven-page report, the Board of Elections calls for a longer time frame to implement the program, at least two years. More >

NY’s Economic Recovery Not Shared Equally, Report Finds

dinapoli1New York state is exiting the economic downturn of the last decade with a record number of jobs, but the recovery is an uneven one across the state, a report released Monday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found.

“I think it’s a good picture in terms of employment,” DiNapoli said in an interview. “We’ve hit an historic high level in terms of numbers of jobs we’ve had in this state. So, we continue to dig out from under the recession.”

But the recovery is largely being driven by New York City and the suburban counties around it, with regions upstate continuing to remain in the economic doldrums. More >

DiNapoli Questions Sandy Spending On Catering Company

dinapoliA catering company contracted by the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs racked up $20,00 in costs deemed excessive by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office, according to a report released on Thursday.

The Staten Island-based Arrochar Meats, Inc., provided food to the New York Army National Guard during the emergency response for Superstorm Sandy, but also acted as “an unnecessary middleman” for 18,960 gallons of fuel, which added nearly $20,000 to purchase price.

“In times of disasters, most New Yorkers pull together to help each other, not to make a quick buck,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Even under such circumstances, state agencies should keep watch over the public’s money and, in this case, DMNA should now recover any inappropriate fees that were charged.” More >

DiNapoli: Sales Tax Revenue Slows

Sales tax collections on the local level have slowed to 1.6 percent growth in the first half of 2015, down from a 3 percent increase last year and far lower than the 4.2 percent average annual growth rate in the last 15 year, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found in a report released today.

When not including cities, county sales tax collections have grown by 0.5 percent during the first six months of the year, while many counties have seen an actual decline in their revenue.

Overall, sales tax collections declined in 33 of the 57 counties outside of New York City when taking into consideration the same period in 2014, the report found.

The steepest decline was in Schoharie County, which saw a 6.1 percent decrease. Steuben County saw the steepest increase, 8.8 percent.

“There has been a general downward trend in sales tax collection growth over the last several years and that is continuing in 2015,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “The slow growth in sales taxes could pose fiscal challenges for local governments across New York, especially for counties who rely heavily on sales tax collections to pay their bills.”

The declining revenue is potentially problematic for counties next year, when the cap on tax levy increases will be under 1 percent for the first time the limit was in effect since 2012.

Local Sales Tax Collection 0715 by Nick Reisman

NY Has $1.9B More Than Expected

New York had nearly $1.9 billion more than expected in its general fund balance in June, according to a report released by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

The June cash report, released Wednesday morning, found tax revenues in June were stronger than initially projected, with $8.1 billion being collected and, for the first quarter of the fiscal year, $748.5 million higher than estimated.

Still, DiNapoli warned that the strong collections will not necessarily continue for the rest of the year.

“Tax collections were robust in the first quarter of the fiscal year, exceeding projections in every major category,” DiNapoli said. “However, we are seeing strength in sometimes volatile revenue sources, so it is unclear whether this positive trend will continue in the months ahead.”

Here’s the report:

june_2015 by Nick Reisman

DiNapoli: Tax Cap Will Be Under 1 Percent

The cap on local government property tax increases will be 0.73 percent, according to a report released on Monday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.

“Local government officials need to brace for the lowest growth in their property tax revenue in the tax cap era,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Municipalities may have to operate differently under these new limits. Even tougher budget choices may be required on staffing levels, delivery of services, fund balance reductions, and deferral of capital and infrastructure projects. And if inflation trends continue, it is possible that some local governments with fiscal years beginning later in 2016, including school districts, could be faced with zero growth in property tax revenue.”

The cap has been in place for local governments and school districts since 2012. The cap limits increases to 2 percent or the rate of inflation for local governments, including counties, towns, fire districts, cities and village entities.

The report found that the local governments will have about $88.3 million less in levy growth next year compared to 2015.

This year, the allowable growth rate for tax increases was 1.56 percent.

Local governments and school districts sought changes to the state cap this year, including making it easier to override the measure when budgets are considered as well as eliminating the rate of inflation provision.

In the end, lawmakers did approve comparatively minor changes to the cap, such as allowing for capital expenses in BOCES programs and PILOT provisions.

Tax Cap Tightens 0715 by Nick Reisman