Local villages fare well in state fiscal stress test

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System has identified 22 villages in New York in some level of fiscal stress, but none of them are in Yates County, or even the Finger Lakes Region. In fact, the four villages in Yates County have all been classified as having “no designation,” the highest ranking in the comptroller’s classifications.

Scores for the area villages are (with 0 being the best score):

• Dresden 11.3 percent

• Dundee 3.3 percent

• Rushville 9.6 percent

• Penn Yan 0

Penn Yan Mayor Leigh MacKerchar praised Village Clerk Gary Meeks and Trustee Robert Church, former mayor and chairman of the Finance Committee, for their efforts. He noted this is the second consecutive year Penn Yan’s score was zero.

DiNapoli’s office evaluated and scored 539 villages, which predominantly have a fiscal year ending on May 31. Of those 539, three villages were classified as in “significant fiscal stress,” four in “moderate fiscal stress,” and 15 as “susceptible to fiscal stress.” Last year, a total of 15 villages from this group were listed in fiscal stress.

The fiscal stress scores also showed:

• Eight of the nine regions in the state had at least one village in fiscal stress in 2014; the Finger Lakes region was the only region without a village in fiscal stress;

• Half of the villages in fiscal stress were located downstate – seven in the Mid-Hudson Valley and four in Long Island;

• Regions with the largest increase in fiscally stressed villages were the Capital District (three); Mid-Hudson Valley (three) and Western New York (three); and

• Thirteen villages had a decrease in their score of at least 25 percentage points or more in 2014.

Using financial indicators that include year-end fund balance, short-term borrowing and patterns of operating deficits, the monitoring system creates an overall fiscal stress score which classifies whether a municipality is in “significant fiscal stress,” in “moderate fiscal stress,” is “susceptible to fiscal stress” or has “no designation.”

The three villages that were classified in “significant fiscal stress” were: Amityville (Suffolk County); Tuckahoe (Westchester); and Port Dickinson (Broome). Those designated in “moderate fiscal stress” were: Tannersville (Greene); Akron (Erie); Ardsley (Westchester); and West Hampton Dunes (Suffolk).

DiNapoli’s office found that villages in fiscal stress share a number of common characteristics. Nearly all operate with both low fund balance and budget deficits. Nearly three-quarters of those in stress faced cash flow shortages, or liquidity issues, compared to just three percent of villages with no designation.

There are a total of 549 villages in the state. Ten have a Dec. 31 fiscal year end date and are not included on this list. Those ten will have their scores released later this year.

Of the 15 villages listed in fiscal stress in 2013, only four – Amityville, West Hampton Dunes, Marcellus and Red Hook – remained in fiscal stress in 2014. However, 14 villages had increases of 25 percentage points or more in their total fiscal stress scores. The most dramatic increase was in the village of Pomona in Rockland County, which saw a 51 percentage point increase in its fiscal stress score.

Other villages that experienced a 25 percent or more spike in scoring include: Akron (Erie County); Port Dickinson (Broome); Ardsley (Westchester); Hunter (Greene ); Fort Ann (Washington); Andover (Allegany); New Square (Rockland); Elmira Heights (Chemung); Tannersville (Greene); Wurtsboro (Sullivan); Walden (Orange); Vernon (Oneida); and Mount Morris (Livingston).

Fiscally stressed villages also share a number of environmental themes, including: declining property values, above average child poverty rates and an aging population.

In January, DiNapoli released fiscal stress scores for school districts. In September, his office will release scores for calendar year municipalities, which includes all counties, towns and the majority of cities.

For a list of villages in fiscal stress, visit:

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/fiscalmonitoring/villages_stressed2014.htm

For the complete list of village fiscal stress scores and access to the full set of underlying data that was used to generate the fiscal stress scores, visit:

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/fiscalmonitoring/lists_localgovernments.htm