Tax Cap Will Remain At 2 Percent, DiNapoli Says

The state’s cap on property tax levy increases will remain at 2 percent for the 2020 fiscal year, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office said Thursday in an announcement.

The announcement affects local governments — counties, towns, fire districts, 44 cities and 10 villages — that have their fiscal year end Dec. 31.

The cap is tied to either the rate of inflation or 2 percent, whichever is lower.

In the early years of the tax cap, allowable property tax growth was under 2 percent given the relatively flat rate of inflation.

“The allowable levy growth will be 2 percent for the second year in a row, however, mixed economic signals may require local governments to respond to changing financial conditions,” DiNapoli said. “Local officials should remain vigilant when crafting their budgets.”

DiNapoli Report Raises Concerns Of Long-Term Budget Balance

The state’s economy is doing well and jobs continue to grow, but Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office has concerns about the long-term balance of the state budget, a report released Tuesday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found.

The blame is large part is placed on the effect of federal policies, which have led to making it harder to predict tax revenue.

The report pointed to the budget relying on $8.3 billion in temporary resources. The budget, as usual, relies heavily on revenue from the personal income tax. The current fiscal year spending plan counts 64 percent of its revenue from the tax, which is at the mercy of economic volatility. Projects from the personal income tax have varied from year to year due to federal tax law changes.

“While New York’s economy continues to expand, gains in jobs, personal income and wages are projected to slow,” DiNapoli said. “The Enacted Budget plan addresses risks such as downturns in tax receipts and federal aid, but other, more unpredictable impacts on state revenues may require more action. While rainy day funds were increased, building more robust reserves should be a top priority.”

Budget gaps in the coming years of 2020-21 will reach $3.9 billion and $.7 billion in 2022-23 before any spending or revenue actions are taken.

State-supported debt outstanding is expected to increase by $1.36 billion, but capacity under the state’s debt cap is due to declined by $107 million in the coming years.

DiNapoli: Pension Fund Valued At $210.2B

The state pension fund ended the fiscal year with a 5.23 percent return on investment, growing from $207.4 billion to $210.2 billion, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office on Thursday announced.

The common retirement fund weathered a roller coaster swing in the markets in December amid broader concerns of an economic slowdown in 2019.

“The Fund’s value continued to grow during its 2019 fiscal year and remains well positioned to meet its long term return expectations and provide retirement security for our members, retirees and their beneficiaries,” DiNapoli said. “It was a tumultuous year in the markets that fortunately came with more ups than downs, including a swift recovery from December’s significant correction.”

The state’s fiscal year runs from April 1 through March 31.

The final pension fund value could change once returns are fully audited, the comptroller’s office said.

Ulster County Comptroller To Depart For DiNapoli’s Office

Ulster County Comptroller Elliot Auerbach has been appointed to a deputy comptroller post overseeing local government and school accountability in state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.

DiNapoli announced the appointment to the $150,000-a-year job on Thursday, which takes effect May 16.

“Having served four terms as Ulster County Comptroller and as a village mayor, Elliott has first-hand knowledge of the challenges faced by local governments,” DiNapoli said. “He has aggressively pursued fraud and waste in county operations and understands that strong fiscal controls ensure that taxpayer resources are used efficiently and effectively. He is the ideal choice to lead my efforts to hold local governments accountable, while offering them a helping hand to better serve taxpayers.”

Auerbach has served as the Ulster County comptroller since 2009 and previously served for three terms as the mayor of the village of Ellenville.

Auerbach is the latest Ulster County official to depart for a job with the state. In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo nominated Ulster County Executive Mike Hein to serve as the commissioner of the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance.

DiNapoli: Budget Picture Improves

New York’s $175.5 billion spending plan deposits the first rainy day payment of $250 million in four years, but also increases the practice of “off-budget” spending, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found in a report released on Wednesday.

The annual report assessing the state budget determined the budget will generate an additional $1 billion in revenue and helps bolster the state’s finances for health care and education.

But at the same time, the state remains vulnerable to shifts in the financial markets and the broader economy.

“New York is beginning the new fiscal year in a better position than projected,” DiNapoli said. “However, continuing concerns regarding revenue volatility, the forecast for a slowing economy and detrimental federal fiscal policies leave open questions going forward. The recent addition to the Rainy Day Fund is a good first step toward building more robust reserves before the next economic downturn.”

DiNapoli had backed using additional revenue in March to deposit into the state’s rainy day fund to guard against a recession, which some economists believe could begin as early as next year.

But the budget also expands the use of “off-budget” expenses, such as a shift of MTA-related state resources of about $547.5 million in the current year. The move, along with other measures in the budget, has the effect of limiting or bypassing current law to ensure oversight over state procurement.

Here is the full report.

DiNapoli: NYC Economy Continues To Boom

New York City’s economy continues to be a strong economic engine, according to a report released Wednesday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

The city’s employment level reached 4.55 million jobs last year, the highest level evver.

In the 10 years since the economic recession of 2008, New York City added 82,0400 jobs, more than every state in the country outside of California, Texas, Florida and New York itself.

The technology sector has also increased by 80 percent to 142,600 jobs.

The report released Wednesday comes after Amazon decided to back away from a project to bring up to 25,000 jobs to Long Island City in Queens, which would have been linked to $3 billion in tax credits and other incentives.

“New York City is experiencing its largest and longest job expansion since the end of World War II and the city has been the driving force behind the state’s employment gains,” DiNapoli said. “While job growth remains strong, there are national and global risks that could affect the pace of future growth.”

In the current expansion, there are 91,200 jobs being added each year, with business services, tourism and health care sectors making up 60 percent of the growth in the last 10 years.

Wall Street, however, remains smaller than it did by 4 percent since 2007.

Overall, the unemployment rate fell from 10.1 percent in October 2009 to 4.1 percent last year.

Immigrants make up 42 percent of the workforce and their unemployment rate is below the overall city rate.

DiNapoli Eyes 2022 Re-Election

dinapoli2022Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s campaign account has re-named itself in anticipation of a re-election bid for the office he’s held since 2007.

DiNapoli’s campaign committee recently changed its name to DiNapoli 2022, according to a filing on the state Board of Elections website. The filing indicates DiNapoli will be seeking another term as comptroller, managing the state’s retirement fund as well as conducting audits and oversight of state spending.

DiNapoli, a Democratic former member of the Assembly, was selected by the Legislature in 2007 to replace Alan Hevesi, who resigned before he was sworn in to a second term.

DiNapoli is now the longest serving statewide official in New York government.

DiNapoli Issues Warning On Budget

Comptroller DiNapoli in a statement Friday afternoon warned state revenue is sagging — making the state budget process all the more difficult for lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

DiNapoli’s office released the January revenue numbers, showing a decline in projected revenue to the state of more than $2 billion.

In a statement, DiNapoli said the state needs to prepare the economy slowing down.

“New York’s revenue picture is increasingly challenged. The final January revenue numbers for the state released by my office today confirm the substantial shortfall the Governor and I announced earlier this month. In addition, the Division of the Budget’s updated financial plan reduces projected tax receipts in the coming years by billions of dollars,” DiNapoli said in a statement.

“Given the unpredictable revenue environment we now face, we should take an extremely cautious approach when negotiating next year’s budget. As one step, I urge the Governor and Legislature to make the prudent financial decision to substantially build up the state’s reserves to help better prepare for an economic downturn.”

Cuomo has blamed the slack revenue on the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions. He traveled to Washington this week to discuss the issue with President Donald Trump.

DiNapoli: Better Coordination Needed In Curtailing Opioid Use

Some Medicaid recipients in New York have received unnecessary or potentially dangerous opioid prescriptions outside of their addiction treatment efforts, a report released Monday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office found.

The audit, part of a series of audits reviewing opioid use in New York, found programs offering treatment services have in many cases not checked to determine whether patients are receiving opioid prescriptions or coordinating with health care providers.

“New York and the rest of the country are facing an opioid addiction epidemic, and people’s lives are at stake,” DiNapoli said. “Programs designed to get individuals off highly addictive opioids can only be effective with proper vigilance. The state Department of Health should take steps to help treatment programs and health care providers work together to prevent overdoses that could lead to hospitalizations or death.”

Audtiors review Department of Health records from Oct. 1, 20134 through Sept. 30, 2017, finding more than 180,000 Medicaid recipients who received 208,198 prescriptions for opioid use through the program. At the same time, they were receiving opioids, often methadone, as part of a treatment for opioid use disorder.

Thirty-three percent of Medicaid recipietns in treatment programs are receiving prescription opioids outside of that program, with 3 percent of those patients having received medical care for an overdose within a month of obtaining a prescription.

Recommendations include having the Department of Health improve its scrutiny of opioid prescriptions for Medicaid recipients who are being treated for use disorders and issuing a guidance to remind treatment programs of their statutory and regulatory requirement to consult the I-STOP database.

DiNapoli Finds Mixed Picture For Local Government Finances

There has been a decline in the number of local governments facing fiscal challenges, but those who are in “significant fiscal stress” has more than doubled, according to a report released Tuesday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

“Fewer local governments are considered fiscally stressed, but those with persistent financial problems are struggling to stay out of the red and fix their problems,” said DiNapoli. “While the results may be encouraging in some areas, there are municipalities that should focus on near-term financial risks and implement more prudent long-term planning.”

The annual report assessing local government finances found 25 municipalities are deemed to be under a form of fiscal stress, including 10 counties, six cities and nine towns.

It is the third consecutive year that the number of fiscally problematic municipalities has fallen under the review, which assesses a variety of indicators, including fund balances, cash-on-hand totals, borrowing and chronic deficits.

Still, there are more local government facing significant fiscal stress: Nassau, Monroe and Westchester counties, Niagara Falls, Poughkeepsie, Watervliet, German Flatts, Oyster Bay and Parish all received the designation.

Munis Stressed by Nick Reisman on Scribd