The Balance Sheet

Person holding mobile phone with the word "Blog" on it and some other text. Laptop open in the background.

The Balance Sheet

The Balance Sheet is the blog of the Local Government Commission staff. Click below to sign up to receive email alerts when new blog posts are released.

Sign Up

For announcements and resources related to the impacts of COVID-19, visit our Local Government COVID-19 Resources page.

COVID-19 Resources

ARPA Webinar with NCLM, NCACC, and DST

Monday, June 7, 2021

Join the North Carolina League of Municipalities and the NC Association of County Commissioners for a Q&A session with the N.C. State Treasurer's office staff about the ARP funding for local governments. The webinar will discuss the specifics of accounting for American Rescue Plan funds for local governments.

The webinar is free, but registration is required. We encourage any local government staff, especially finance staff, and/or elected officials who will be involved with ARP funding processes to attend.  

WHEN:  June 16, 2021 at 2:00pm
COST:  Free, registration required
DETAILS and REGISTRATION:  Here

New ARPA Guidance and Resources for Local Governments

Monday, June 7, 2021

NEW RESOURCE FROM GFOA ON ESTIMATING LOST REVENUE

For those of you that are members of GFOA, they have a new revenue replacement calculator to assist you in calculating the amount of lost revenue you can replace with ARPA funds.  It is behind their paywall so available only to members. Log in at GFOA.org to check it out.

NEWS REGARDING COBRA PREMIUMS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYERS THAT PROVIDE HEALTHCARE BENEFITS

Included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is a benefit to former employees that are utilizing the COBRA option to obtain healthcare benefits.  From April 1 through September 30, 2021, employers will be responsible for covering the COBRA premiums for most former employees (there are some exceptions). Employers will recoup that cost through reduced employer-share Medicare taxes. Any local government with former employees utilizing COBRA needs to pay attention to these rules. Learn more from Diane Juffras at the SOG here

Help Available for Residents Behind on Rent and/or Utility Bills

Friday, June 4, 2021

The State recently reopened applications for rent and/or utility bill assistance through its HOPE program. Residents can apply for assistance at 888-9ASK-HOPE or at hope.nc.gov in 88 of the 100 counties in North Carolina. The remaining 12 counties have their own rental and utility bill assistance programs and persons interested in getting help in those counties should apply directly to their county agency. The twelve counties operating independent assistance programs are Wake, Durham, Johnston, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Mecklenburg, New Hanover and Union. 

ARPA Funds Accounting, Auditing, and Budgeting Guidance

Friday, May 28, 2021

While there isn’t a lot of firm guidance available on ARPA funds, some aspects have become a little clearer with the issuance of the Interim Final Rule by the UST on May 11, 2021. SLG staff, as well as SOG and NCPRO staff, have been receiving a number of questions on the accounting, auditing, and budgeting of these funds. This is not intended to be comprehensive guidance but should provide units some guardrails within which to operate until we know more.

Receiving and holding funds:

  • We don’t see the need to open a separate bank account for these funds unless it is the only way the unit has to track the receipts and expenditure of the ARPA funds. If an entity can track both the revenue and expenditures within its accounting system without using a separate bank account, we believe that is acceptable.

Accounting points:

  • Do not comingle ARPA funds with CVR/CARES Act funds!
  • ARPA funds cannot be used to build reserves. If an entity has unexpended ARPA funds at June 30, 2021 (and many of you will), it is likely best to put those funds in a Special Revenue Fund. If the funds will be spent on enterprise activities (utility infrastructure for example) they can be recorded directly in the Enterprise Funds. It is probably not a good idea to record the funds in the General Fund, because it could be construed as attempting to build reserves, and it will skew your revenue and...

2021 Treasurer's Conference

Monday, May 17, 2021

Registration is now open for the 2021 State Treasurer's Auditing, Reporting, and Review Conference. As in 2020, this conference will be provided virtually and will span multiple days - June 15, June 22, and June 24 from 9:30am-12pm each day. Cost is $225 for the entire course. Please see the UNC School of Government website for details and registration.

LGC-129 Reports Issued

Friday, May 7, 2021

Local Government Commission staff has emailed statements of debt service obligations to local governments, as required by North Carolina General Statute 159-35. Finance Officers of units with outstanding debt approved by the LGC should have received an email with a link to the LGC129 Report – Annual Bond and Note Principal and Interest Requirements.

PLEASE NOTE: Only local governments with outstanding debt service approved by the LGC would have received a statement. If your unit has outstanding debt service obligations approved by the LGC and you did not receive this email, or if you received it and had problems with the link or questions about the notification, please send an email explaining the problem and your contact information to LGC129@nctreasurer.com. Staff will follow-up with you and re-send the report as needed.

American Rescue Plan Funding Webinar May 11

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The North Carolina League of Municipalities is hosting an “American Rescue Plan: Accessing Funding” webinar on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, from 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm. The League will be joined by staff from the NC Pandemic Recovery Office for a Q&A about the ARP funding for cities and towns.  The webinar is free, but registration is required. Any municipal staff and/or elected officials who will be involved with ARP funding processes are encouraged to attend. 

Please see details and a link for registration on the League's event page.

Utility Service Rates – Are Your Rate Structures in Compliance with NC General Statutes?

Thursday, April 29, 2021

As more fully explained in Professor Kara Millonzi’s blog on utility rates, local governments and public authorities must have a utility-based reason for charging Customer A one rate and Customer B a different rate for the same type of service, such as water, sewer, or electricity. It’s common practice for local utilities to charge residential rates to its residential customers, and commercial rates to its businesses. Some have institutional rates for schools, churches, or other larger users that don’t really fit the commercial category. Most entities charge a base rate that includes X number of gallons, and a per 1,000 gallon rate for any gallons over the base amount. All of these arrangements are generally fine – there is a utility-based reason for setting such structures. Residential customers typically have smaller meters than commercial ones, because the flow in and out is not as voluminous. Other reasons justify the different rates – for example, pre-treatment may be needed for some commercial waste.

What is not allowed is a different rate for a class of user that has no utility-based reason for the classification. Some units may offer employees or former employees a discounted rate or may charge the base rate only regardless of use. Some entities charge churches and non-profits a lower rate (or give them free services) than a rate charged...

Budgeting for Debt- and Grant-Funded Capital Projects

Monday, April 26, 2021

Most local governments will embark on a capital project periodically, whether the project is for utilities, streets, or other purposes. The Local Government Commission (LGC) staff has noted some areas of concern involving the budgeting and pre-auditing of expenditures related to debt- and grant-funded construction projects, particularly those costs that are incurred at the beginning of a project.

To initiate debt and grant funding for a specific project, the unit must submit an application to its funder(s). Many times, the application requires that a project budget or estimate of the project cost be included. Sometimes the “budget” submitted is a worksheet that is part of the application. Units (and their independent auditors) must realize that this document does not serve as a legally adopted budget.

Many projects include preliminary work that must occur before the grant or loan funding is finalized, and before the loan portion is presented to the LGC for approval. Examples include preliminary engineering reports, project design work, legal costs, and others. These costs must be appropriately pre-audited and therefore legally budgeted before the obligation to spend funds is incurred, regardless of the source of funds. For the obligations to be appropriately budgeted, the...

RAISE Grants from U.S. DOT

Friday, April 23, 2021

Please see this announcement from the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant opportunities. From the announcement:  Funds for the FY 2021 RAISE grant program are to be awarded on a competitive basis for surface transportation infrastructure projects that will have a significant local or regional impact. This program was formerly known as BUILD Transportation Grants. Applications must be submitted by 5:00 PM Eastern on July 12, 2021.

Please note that we are passing along this announcement for your general information; see the referenced website for details and contacts.