The New York Assembly and the state's Division of the Budget plan next year to propose guidelines to help municipalities address their budget deficits.
Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, D-Queens, and bond counsel familiar with municipal finance in the state said last week the proposals would largely address what steps a municipality should take before issuing deficit bonds. The measures would also outline how the state should regulate communities facing budget problems.
Mr. Weprin and the others were attending a meeting Friday of the New York State Government Finance Officers Association in West Point, N.Y.
Details of the plans are not yet available, but sources at the conference said they would resemble recommendations that the state comptroller's office has proposed for communities considering deficit bonding. There are currently no formal guidelines for localities that face budget gaps.
The comptroller's guidelines would create a series of steps keyed to the severity of a municipality's fiscal problems. The final step would be imposition of a control period and board by the state. Currently, the state intervenes only when a deficit-ridden community is near disaster.
State officials and municipal bond professionals at the meeting Friday said the Legislature will face at least as many requests for deficit bonding in the upcoming session as it did during the last, when 10 requests were made and granted.
Mr. Weprin, who gave the keynote address at the meeting, said the state "needs to eliminated the guesswork" involved in deficit financing.
Under the plans being developed by the Assembly and the Budget Division, the regulators would jump in earlier.
Mr. Weprin said he would like to see a plan that would help make it unnecessary for municipalities to issue deficit bonds and provide a system to regulate those municipalities that sell deficit bonds.
Mr. Weprin said a procedure must also be developed that takes politics out of deficit bonding.
"Regrettably, we will probably see more municipalities issue deficit bonds next year," Mr. Weprin said. "More important than developing a process, we must stop municipalities from getting in trouble."
At the moment, municipalities that need to issue deficit bonds must receive legislative approval. During the last legislative session, the Democratic-controlled Assembly refused to approve the deficit financing packages of Nassau County and Suffolk County, which are Republican strongholds.
In the Republican-controlled state Senate, a number of lawmakers then opposed deficit financing bills submitted by Democratically-controlled local governments. After days of haggling, the packages were passed.