CENTRAL SQUARE, NY – The village of Central Square made the state comptroller’s latest list of fiscally distressed municipalities announced Sunday.
The report released by the State Comptroller’s office evaluated 535 villages across the state which had a fiscal year ending May 31, 2013.
According to its rating system, financial stress indicators are based on nine different calculations in the following five categories: year end fund balance, operating deficits, cash position, use of short-term debt and fixed costs.
Each calculation is linked to a point-based scoring system and drives an overall financial indicator score. That score is then assigned a level of fiscal stress. Of the 585 villages scored, 15 villages were determined to be under significant, moderate or susceptible to fiscal stress. Locally the village of Central Square, with a fiscal score of 47.9 percent, ranked as the only Oswego County stressed village, rated as susceptible to stress.
The village joins the city of Fulton, with a score of 55.8 percent which was determined last year to be a city under moderate fiscal stress.
City officials learned in November that the state’s new Fiscal Restructuring Board approved their application for assistance. State and local officials are working to create a plan for the city which could result in grant funding up to $5million.
The city of Oswego scored 44.6 percent in November, just below the susceptible to stress threshold. The County of Oswego scored 15.8 percent.
With fewer than 3 percent of villages across the state scoring in the fiscal trouble range, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli urged vigilance.
“Although the number of villages designated as fiscally stressed is small, village officials across the state must be on alert,” DiNapoli said. “Moving forward, the drivers of fiscal stress will continue to hamper villages in many of the same ways it does our larger municipalities. I continue to emphasize to local officials that the best way their community can avoid falling into fiscal stress is through sensible budgeting and careful long-term planning.”
According to the report, other villages across the county scored below the minimum stress rating of 45 percent. Those villages include: Cleveland, 11.7 percent ; Hannibal, 10 percent; Lacona, 41.3 percent; and Mexico, 9.6 percent.
Also reporting were the villages of Parish, 3.3 percent; Phoenix, 33.5 percent; and Sandy Creek, 17.9 percent.
The village of Pulaski did not report.
Voters in the village of Altmar, in a 80 – 74 vote, passed a referendum in November 2010 to dissolve that municipality effective Jan. 1, 2013. The village was absorbed by the surrounding town of Albion.
DiNapoli’s report comes on the heels of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget address earlier this month when he reiterated his push to reduce the size of government across the state through consolidation and dissolution of municipalities.
“The tax that is the main burden in the state is not the income tax. It is the property tax,” Cuomo said. “Why is the property tax so high? Because we have too many levels of government period. You don’t need any calculator to figure this out. When you have as many levels of local government as we have and you are supporting that many subdivisions, the cost is going to be high.”