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Local Fiscal Stress

New York State's local governments have come under increasingly high levels of fiscal responsibility in recent years, resulting in stress for local governments. Through analysis of economic trends, focus groups and statewide surveys, we explore causes and responses to fiscal stress. 

Supporting NY's Local Governments: Legislative Briefing

May 22, 2018, 12pm - 2:30pm, Empire State Plaza, Meeting Room 4, Albany

This legislative briefing will address the problem of fiscal stress among New York's local governments and the role the State Legislature can play in addressing these challenges.

What can NY learn from other states? What does the in-depth research on NYS show? We are seeing important shifts in intergovernmental relations, most recently with the Federal tax reform on SALT. How can NY best respond to these challenges?

Come share in a discussion of research by Cornell University, local government associations and policy think tanks. 

Registration is free, but please register here so we know you are coming.

If you have any questions, please contact Catarina Massa at or Ron Deutsch from the Fiscal Policy Institute at See you there!

Additional Information:
Program Agenda

Issue Briefs:
Fix the Cap 
A Municipal Toolbox 
Michigan's Approach to Fiscal Crisis 
Tax Abatements in New York State


Report of 2017 Statewide Survey of Local Government Responses to Fiscal Stress

Aldag, A., M.E. Warner and Y. Kim. (2017). What Causes Local Fiscal Stress? What Can Be Done About It? Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Focus Group Reports (2015): A report of focus groups on causes and responses to fiscal stress among local governments across New York State.

Facing Fiscal Challenges: Moving Towards a New York State and Local Government Partnership  (2015) By Khadija Anjum, Hannah Bahnmiller, Hien Dinh, Alia Fierro, Jieun Kim, Yunji Kim, Jessica Masters, Disha Mendhekar, Kaitlyn Olbrich, Kyra Spotte-Smith, Mildred Warner, Keaton Wetzel, and Jubek Yongo-Bure

State Austerity Policy and Creative Local Response (2014): These reports approach the issues of fiscal stress from both a policy implication perspective and an examination of local government responses.

New York Property Tax Cap: Implications for Local Fiscal Health 

NY Property Tax Cap Impact Analysis By Robert Rivera and Yuanshuo Xu, Cornell University

Tax Caps in Other States: Lessons for New York By Hector Chang and Christine Wen, Cornell University

NY Property Tax Cap Implications for School Districts By Deborah H. Cunningham, Director for Education and Research, NYS Association of School Business Officials

The Pension Problem

Myth or Reality? The State of Public Pensions in Upstate New York By Abigail Rivin and Yunji Kim, Cornell University

Sustainable Economic Development: Investments in People, Place and Business

Sustainable Economic Development: Investments in People, Place and Business By Elizabeth Agyeman-Budu, Becky Gitonga, Clint McManus, Derek Moretz, Marcelina Valdes & Xue Zhang, Cornell University

Collaboration between Unions, Citizens & Municipalities: Toward a Common Narrative

Collaboration between Unions, Municipalities, & Municipalities: Toward a Common Narrative By Sarah Cantatore, Zach Cunningham, & Michelle Muschett, Cornell University

Local Innovations in Public Service Delivery

Benefits of Well-Designed User Fees By Brian Byrd, Cornell University

Social Indicators for New York State Local Governments

Social Indicators for New York Local Governments By Ana Huckfeldt, Irene Hung & Roya Sabri, Cornell University

Chronic Underfunding for Transportation: New York State's Response to Local Infrastructure Needs

Chronic Underfunding for Transportation: New York State's Response to Local Infrastructure Needs By Danielle Burgess, Tyler Keegan, Daniel Kuhlmann, Taru, & Max Weisbrod, Cornell University

Upstate Case Studies (2014): These four case studies highlight the specific fiscal challenges and responses of four Upstate New York Cities. Could add one or two sentence description

Fiscal Challenges and Opportunities: An Examination of Fiscal Conditions, Innovations, and Regional Strategies in the City of Buffalo & Erie County By Nidhi Subramanyam, Paul Leonhardt and Elliot Sperling, Cornell University

City of Rochester: From an Industrial City to a Knowledge-based Economy By Patience Milrod, Eithel Manrique and Barbara Marchiori de Assis, Cornell University 

Weathering Financial Challenges through Strategic Partnerships By Katelin Olson, Alvaro Salas, Andrea Restrepo-Mieth and Dana Westgren, Cornell University.

Refugees and Revitalization - Taking a closer look at Utica's fiscal stress and opportunities for local solutions By Clint McManus and Nancy Sprehn, Cornell University

Additional Thematic Reports

Xu, Y. and Warner, M.E. (2015). "Understanding employment growth in the recession: the geographic diversity of state rescaling," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 8(1); 1-19. 

Nidhi Subramanyam  (2014). Can START-UP NY jumpstart the NY economy?, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University. 

Warner, M.E. and J. Clifton (2013). "Marketisation, public services and the city: the potential for Polanyian counter movements," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 7(1): 45-61. 

Warner, Mildred E. and Lingwen Zheng. (2013). "Business Incentive Adoption in the Recession." Economic Development Quarterly, 27: 90.

Katz, B., & Bradley, J. (2013). The Metropolitan Revolution. How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy. Washington: Brookings Institution Press.

Association of Towns of the State of New York  

Meeting and Training Session: February 19, 2018, New York, NY

Fiscal Stress Survey; Overriding the Property Tax Cap; Leveraging Non-Profits - PowerPoint

Fix the Property Tax Cap - Issue Brief

State Austerity and Local Fiscal Stress Conference  

Evidence from Wisconsin, Michigan and New York: December 1, 2017, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., 401 Warren Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Conference Program

Registration (Free, but please register so we know you are coming.)

State Austerity and Local Fiscal Stress: Lessons from Wisconsin, Michigan & New York - PowerPoint, Video

Emergency Management in Michigan Cities - Issue Brief, PowerPoint, Video

Stressed Out - Kenneth Earl McLaurin, Jr. - Video (CaRDI Strengthening Communities Conference, September 29, 2017); Video (Cornell Local Fiscal Stress Conference, December 1, 2017)

Colloquium: Austerity, Michigan Cities, and the Future - Video, PowerPoint

Yunji Kim - University of Wisconsin-Madison
Lindsey Smith - Michigan Radio
Karen Majewski - City of Hamtramck
Claire McClinton - Flint Community Organizer

Creative Responses to Stress in New York and Lessons from Other States

NYS Issue Brief, Infrastructure Issue Brief, Powerpoint, Video

Panel Discussion: Next Steps for Local Governments - Video

Barbara Van Epps - NYS Conference of Mayors
Chris Anderson - Association of Towns of the State of New York
Ron Deutsch - Fiscal Policy Institute

Media Coverage

Syracuse Mayor, Stephanie Miner, presenting "Cities: The Promise and the Peril" at the CaRDI Strengthening Communities Conference, September 29, 2017, Video

Discussion on local fiscal stress on Capital Tonight TV with Professor Mildred Warner and Ron Deutsch, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness and the Fiscal Policy Institute.

Professor Mildred Warner discusses the impacts of the property tax cap and possibilities for creative municipal response on the December 10th Talk 1300 show with Fred Dicker after the Local Fiscal Stress Conference. Click here and fast forward to 17:00.

State imposes a fiscal burden on communities. Click here to read commentary by Mildred Warner in the Albany Times Union. 

Innovation Trail: Quality of Life, Infrastructure Investment Key to Urban Renewal. Click here to listen. 

State Imposes a fiscal burden on communities. Albany Times Union, Commentary by Mildred Warner.

State of New York Cities and Shared Services Project profiled on the radio show, Capitol Pressroom. Click here to listen.

Will Detroit's Bankruptcy Come to Upstate New York?