NYC CAFR touts strong economy, record low unemployment rate

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New York City’s annual financial report showcases the city’s strong economy and record low unemployment rate.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2018 on Wednesday.

The CAFR, which includes the city’s audited financial statements for the year, also outlines important economic and financial data and includes new numbers on the comptroller’s office diversity initiatives.

“Accountability and transparency make our city stronger. They’re values that we always hold ourselves to — and our CAFR is a testament to that commitment,” Stringer said.

In accordance with New York City’s Charter, the CAFR is released annually no later than Oct. 31. In addition to the financial statements of the city and each of its accounting funds, the CAFR contains the basic financial statements of the city’s five pension systems and entities such as Health + Hospitals, the water and sewer system, and the Economic Development Corp.

For the 38th year in a row, New York City ended the fiscal year with a budget balanced according to generally accepted accounting principles.
New York City’s economy as measured as real gross city product grew 3.1%, outperforming U.S. gross domestic product growth for the sixth consecutive year.

The city had an operating surplus of $4.6 billion in fiscal 2018, an increase of about $400 million from the previous fiscal year. After certain prepayments and transfers for fiscal 2019, the general fund surplus for fiscal 2018 was $5 million.

City tax revenues grew 8.1%, after experiencing the lowest growth since fiscal 2010 last fiscal year. Growth was propelled by a 19.1% rise in personal income tax revenues, fueled by a one-time boost from Federal tax reform. Property tax revenues grew by 7%.

New York City added 76,600 private-sector jobs, pushing the citywide unemployment rate down to 4.3%, its lowest level on record.

The Bureau of Public Finance works with the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget to issue bonds to finance the city’s capital program and to refund outstanding bonds.

The city and the NYC Transitional Finance Authority issued a total of $7.42 billion of long-term bonds to finance the city’s capital needs. The NYC Municipal Water Finance Authority issued a total of $1.5 billion of bonds to finance the capital needs of the city’s water and sewer systems.

Refundings of city and TFA bonds generated $613.38 million in budgetary savings and refundings of water authority bonds generated $389.34 million of savings over the lifetime of those bonds.

As of June 30, the city’s outstanding general obligation debt, the TFA’s future tax secured debt, and the water authority’s debt together totaled $103.84 billion.

The Comptroller’s Bureau of Asset Management is the investment advisor to the city’s five retirement systems.

As of June 30, the Bureau of Asset Management had $195.8 billion in assets under management for the five city retirement systems. The pension trust funds earned $13.5 billion in investment income, net of investment expenses, in fiscal 2018, for a return of 8.7%.

"The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2018, released today, shows continued growth in New York City’s long-term liabilities for bonded debt, pensions, and other postemployment benefits (OPEB)," the Citizens Budget Commission said in a statement. "These liabilities reached a record $257.3 billion, an increase of $4.7 billion since fiscal year 2017 ... The average liability per New York City household has increased by more than $1,500 to $82,577."

The CBC said that OPEB liability for retiree health and other nonpension benefits increased by $10.1 billion to $99 billion. Bonded debt also increased by $3.1 billion to $111.0 billion, the CBC said.

In contrast, the pension liability decreased by $8.5 billion due to strong investment returns and the city’s commitment to increase budgetary contributions. In the aggregate the city’s pension funds are now 75.9% funded, according to the CBC.

The comptroller’s Office of Diversity Initiatives works to develop innovative solutions that expand economic opportunities for all, serving as a watchdog for the inclusion of women and people of color in City business.

In fiscal 2018, the comptroller’s office more than doubled its spending with minority- and women-owned business enterprises achieving 29% spending, up from 12% in fiscal 2014.

Stringer also appointed a Diversity and Inclusion Director in the Bureau of Asset Management, the first time the bureau has had staff dedicated to diversity across all asset classes.

“The numbers in this report are the footprints of our city and represent the work of dedicated public servants who keep our city running,” Stringer said. “New Yorkers deserve the strongest level of public data we can provide. I’m proud that once again, the CAFR has met the highest standards for financial reporting.”

Last year’s fiscal 2017 CAFR was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association for the 38th straight year.

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FIBO Government accounting Accounting standards GAAP Budgets City of New York, NY New York City Transitional Finance Authority New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority New York City Pension Funds New York City Health + Hospitals New York