Weeks 10& 11 (15 Points)

Continue reading Chapters 11 through 14, the end of your textbook. This week we will discuss local government finance. It is often said that if you really want to know about government you have to study budgets and finance. Politics is, after all, all about who gets what and - how they get it. Budgets are at the heart of the political process. It keeps score who is winning and who is losing.

The word "budget" itself is derived from the French word "bouget", or a leather bag carried by the exchequer to parliament carrying the King's demands. The word "fiscal," meaning "financial," derives from the French word "fisc" - or purse.

The textbook definition of a budget would be: a device for allocating scarce resources among competing government programs and activities. It has also been variously described as:

1. Document concerned with the allocation of resources.

2. A Mechanism to manage political and organizational conflict.

3. An organizational commitment to goals.

4. A blueprint for compromise.

5. A series of goals with price tags attached.

Listed below are a number of readings that I suggest you complete.

Suggested Readings

Click Here to See the Suffolk County Budget Process.

Click Here to See The New York State Budget Process

Click Here to See New York State Budget and Financial Terms

Chapters 11 and 12 in the Local Government Handbook

Text on Taxes

Chapter 13 in your textbook.

Remember, some of the article links for this course are scanned images and are not easy to read. In some cases it may be easier to print out those articles that are difficult to read in hard copy form.


Please complete the following questions in no more than 5 pages.

1. There are generally a few stages to the typical budget process. What are they and which branches or agencies of government are responsible for each stage of the budget process?

2. What are the fiscal years for New York State? New York Counties? New York School Districts? New York Villages?

3. What is the most important source of local government revenue?

4. What is the single biggest expenditure item of states and localities?

5. Explain the problems with the property tax?

6. Explain what "regressive," and "progressive" mean in terms of taxation. For New York State Government, which of the major taxes is probably the most progressive?

7. What does it mean to say that a revenue is economically "elastic?" Give an example of an economically elastic source of revenue? Give an example of an inelastic source of revenue.

8. In New York, refuse collection is most likely to account for the largest portion of the budget in which local jurisdiction?

9. In New York, welfare is most likely to account for the largest portion of the budget in which local jurisdiction?

10. In New York, public safety is most likely to account for the largest portion of the budget in which local jurisdiction?

11. Complete the following problems in relation to school district property taxes.

School A

Total assessed value = $100,000,000

School needs to raise = $50,000,000

Average assessment on household in district = $5,000

Tax Rate = ?

Average Tax paid = ?

12. Please distinguish between a capital budget and an operating budget.

13. What is the General Fund of the New York State Budget? What are the other major funds?

14. Except for the cities, which includes New York City and therefore skews the data, which local governmental jurisdiction gets the most State Aid?

15. What are the two biggest taxes levied by the County of Suffolk?

16. What is an appropriation? In New York State all appropriations are classified under one of four categories. What are the categories?

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E-mail: seth.forman@co.suffolk.ny.us