Members of the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority gather for...

Members of the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority gather for a meeting in Uniondale on March 22, 2012. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Would New York benefit from an early warning system that could detect local government financial troubles, perhaps triggering a state oversight board automatically? Probably not. First, it's usually well known which places are running chronic deficits; the problem is balancing those budgets. Second, state control boards can't magically solve a community's fiscal troubles -- and are seen by some as usurping local voter control, often for years. New York City's board helped the city through a fiscal crisis in 1975 -- yet is still around. Nassau's has been around 12 years. Third, having a board can mean transferring part of the problem to other taxpayers if a bundle of state funding comes with the board. Ultimately, that can undermine local willingness to pay the piper when the bill for local services comes due.