The fiscal stress monitoring system was set up by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli so that citizens, government officials, and other interested parties could access information related to the financial condition of municipalities and school districts.
According to the website, “The Fiscal Stress Monitoring System (the System) is OSC’s program to objectively identify issues with budgetary solvency — the ability to generate enough revenue to meet expenditures — for each county, city, town, village and school district.”
This monitoring system is great and provides a lot of useful information. However, there are many flaws in the reporting system that need to be addressed. For instance, when a municipality or school district doesn’t file their information with the Comptroller on time or at all, then the municipality is not scored and no follow up is done by the Comptroller’s office.
I have completed my research on the Comptrollers website — osc.state.ny.us/localgov/fiscalmonitoring/ — and have confirmed that most of the municipalities and the two public school districts in Ramapo do in fact file their financial information within the time prescribed to get rated. There are three municipalities that do not file on time or at all: Town of Ramapo and the Villages of Spring Valley and Suffern.
The Town of Ramapo last filed their required information for year ending 2014 and had a 77.1 rating and was headed higher (which is bad). The Villages of Spring Valley and Suffern have not filed anything within at least the last three years so we do not even know what their scores are.
I have further looked into what the penalties are for not filing on time or at all and they are very weak, to say the least. The state comptroller should ask that real penalties and consequences be put in place so all municipalities and school districts file their information on time. This will ensure that all interested parties have access to this information and can be fully informed as to the fiscal strength of any particular municipality or school district. Without strict enforcement and penalties, these and other municipalities will not take this requirement seriously and people will remain in the dark.
The writer, a Certified Public Accountant, ran unsuccessfully this year for Ramapo supervisor.