Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli today again sounded the alarm on local governments’ fiscal woes, saying they are being squeezed by declining revenue and a sluggish economic recovery.
Last month, DiNapoli announced a monitoring system to help local governments facing fiscal stress.
“It’s a combination of factors,” DiNapoli told reporters today. “For cities, you have decades of historical shifts in terms of revenue base, population, increasing poverty rates that have an impact. And then you have the lingering effects of the great recession.”
But DiNapoli offered few recommendations himself on how to find mandate relief for local governments, who have complained that the state have pushed down costs to them. And he didn’t take a position on whether the property-tax cap has been a success.
He said he’s waiting for the recommendations from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandate relief team.
“Communities are continuing to have to make tough choices about raising taxes and revenue in a host of areas or having to cut back on programs. And as long as we’re in a struggling economy, you are going to see the revenue base not as strong as people would like it to be in many of our localities,” DiNapoli said.
DiNapoli said his office is continuing to look into its approval process for lawsuit settlements. His office in June signed off on the $103,000 sexual harassment settlement between the Assembly and Assemblyman Vito Lopez, D-Brooklyn, but DiNapoli has said he had no knowledge of the deal.
“The speaker (Sheldon Silver) has indicated he wouldn’t do that way again, if he had the chance,” DiNapoli said “I certainly take him at his word for that. I’ve asked my staff to review how broadly settlements are handled. That review is continuing.”