Comptroller’s Office implements GASB 77 tax abatement disclosures one year ahead of schedule

(New York, NY) – Today, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released the City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for Fiscal Year 2016, which includes the City’s audited financial statements for the year, outlines important economic and financial data about New York City and highlights work done by the Comptroller’s Office during the previous fiscal year.

 

For the first time, this year’s CAFR includes new information about the City’s tax abatement programs to help members of the public understand specific abatements’ purposes, program qualifications and requirements, and how tax abatements affect the City’s bottom line. Although the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement #77 requires these disclosures by Fiscal Year 2017, the Comptroller’s Office chose to provide this transparency a year early.

 

“At every turn, accountability and transparency in government makes our City stronger and this year’s CAFR once again meets the highest standards for fiscal reporting,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. “I thank my colleagues from the five pension systems, the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, the Office of the Actuary, and so many of my staff members – especially from our Bureau of Accountancy – for their work in producing this vital report.”

 

The FY15 CAFR was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association. This is the 36th year in a row New York City has received this prestigious award.

 

In accordance with the City Charter, the CAFR is released annually no later than October 31. In addition to the financial statements of the City as a whole and for each of the City’s accounting funds, explanatory notes to the financial statements, and supplemental financial and statistical information about the City, the CAFR contains the financial statements of the City’s five pension systems, closely-related entities such as New York City Health + Hospitals, the NYC Water and Sewer System, and the NYC Economic Development Corporation.

 

Highlights from the FY16 CAFR include:

 

New York City’s Finances and Economy

  • For the 36th year in a row, New York City completed the fiscal year with a General Fund surplus. In FY16, the General Fund surplus was $5 million.

 

  • The City’s Real Gross Product grew 3.1 percent, nearly double the national GDP growth of 1.7 percent in FY16.
  • New York City added 98,100 private-sector jobs, driving down citywide unemployment to 5.3 percent, the lowest rate since FY08. More than half of these new jobs were in medium and high-wage sectors, bucking a five-year long trend of job growth primarily in low-wage industries.
  • As of June 30, 2016 the Comptroller’s Bureau of Asset Management had $165.2 billion of assets under management for the New York City Retirement Systems.
  • The pension trust funds earned $2.9 billion in investment income, net of investment expenses, in Fiscal Year 2016. Employer and employee contributions totaled $10.8 billion and $1.9 billion respectively, and they made payments to beneficiaries totaling $14.1 billion.

 

  • The City, the New York City Transitional Finance Authority, and the New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority issued a total of $9.76 billion of long-term bonds to finance the City’s capital program and refinance higher coupon bonds for interest savings. The refundings will generate $770.65 million in budgetary savings over the lifetime of the bonds.
  • All General Obligation (GO) bonds issued by the City in FY2016 were refunding bonds. As of June 30, 2016 the City’s outstanding GO debt totaled $38.07 billion, consisting of $31.13 billion of fixed rate bonds and $6.94 billion of variable rate bonds.

Comptroller’s Office

  • Labor Law – The Comptroller’s Office sets and enforces prevailing wages for contractors on New York City public works projects. In FY16, the office:
    • Assessed more than $10.2 million in back pay and interest against private contractors that violated New York’s Labor Law;
    • Imposed penalties totaling $1.6 million against those companies;
    • Opened 98 new cases, resolved 88 cases, and debarred 14 contractors for egregious conduct.
  • Economic Development – Since 1980, the City Pension Funds have invested in Economically Targeted Investments (ETIs). As of June 30, 2016:
    • The ETI program, including real assets, was valued at $2.4 billion;
    • Over the last decade, the ETI program has performed above its benchmark; and
    • Since inception, this program has financed the construction or preservation of nearly 70,000 units of affordable housing and 434,700 square feet of commercial space in low and moderate-income neighborhoods.
  • Audit – The City Charter requires the Comptroller’s Office to audit some aspect of every City agency at least once every four years. In Fiscal Year 2016, the Comptroller’s Office:
    • Issued 73 audits and special reports on the effectiveness and service quality of City programs and financial issues; and
    • These audits and investigations identified approximately $22 million in actual and potential revenue and savings. A further review of claims filed against the City identified nearly $500,000 in additional costs that could have been avoided.

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