The Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments, a ten-member panel that was established earlier this year to offer assistance to cash-strapped local governments, held its first meeting in Albany last week. Board Chair Robert Megna made a presentation at the meeting that can be viewed here.
The FRB was established to identify and offer support to the state’s struggling local governments, beginning with a review of the local government’s finances and operations. Based on the review, the Board will make recommendations to that local government as to how it can improve its fiscal stability, management, and the delivery of public services. The Board can also offer grants and/or loans of up to $5 million through the Local Government Performance and Efficiency Program to help the local government carry out these recommendations.
The unfortunate reality is that the FRB is probably going to be kept quite busy. Far too many local governments throughout the state are facing extreme fiscal challenges – often a stagnant or shrinking tax base caused by declining population and deindustrialization, while dealing with ever-increasing costs relating to employee health care and pensions, too much debt, and high energy costs.