The Balance Sheet

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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.

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

ARPA Resources

ZOOM Calls for Local Governments

Monday, March 23, 2020

The UNC School of Government is sponsoring two free ZOOM calls this week for local governments about water/wastewater utilities operations and information for local government finance professionals during COVID-19.

UNC School of Government Zoom Call on Water/Wastewater Utilities Operations During COVID-19
When: Monday, March 23, 2020 11:00am
Cost: FREE

Details: Local government utilities are facing difficult decisions about how to maintain operations and ensure financial sustainability, while providing essential services to the public and limiting personal interactions during the COVID-19 outbreak. We are getting lots of questions about what changes local governments can make to fee structures, customer service practices, and general operations. We know you are likely approaching Zoom fatigue, among many other things, but the quickest way to disseminate info right now is through conference call. Please join us for a discussion of these issues. We’ll provide legal and financial guidance where we can and also hope to facilitate information sharing among utility providers about adjustments you are making in the field. If you have questions you definitely want addressed during the conference call, please send them in advance to Kara Millonzi (...

Information and Resources on COVID 19 for Local Governments

Friday, March 13, 2020

Cover of book entitled "North Carolina Communicable Disease Law"

UNC School of Government faculty members Diane Juffras and Jill Moore will host live webinars on March 18 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (with on-demand viewing to follow) to prime local governments on steps to take to combat the spread of coronavirus in the workplace and broader community. This webinar was originally scheduled for March 24, but has been rescheduled to this earlier date. Anyone registered for the March 24 date does not need to re-register. 

To register for the webinar, please visit the SOG course registration webpage.

The SOG also has established a resource page for legal information and updates about COVID-19. You can access that page here.

COVID-19: Local Governments’ Options for Water Service to Customers that have been Disconnected

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Banner from Coate's Canons web page

 

An excellent new post on the SOG Coates’ Canons blog talks about disconnected water services for local government utility customers and how the local entity may want to proceed given the outbreak of COVID 19. You can access the post here.  

New Website Security Procedure for Annual Financial Information Report Submission

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The US Census website has deployed a new security procedure on the login page that counties and municipalities use to submit their Annual Financial Information Report. 

screenshot of US Census web page for North Carolina AFIR with yellow arrow pointing to where users need to check a box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After entering your user ID and password to login, you will also need to indicate your acknowledgement of the “U.S. Census Bureau Notice and Consent Warning" statement by clicking on the check box. If the check box is not checked, you will not be able to login to the website and will receive an error message about the acknowledgement. 

If you have issues with the new login procedures, please contact US Census Bureau support staff at 301-763-5153 or 1-800-242-4523. Please note that Department of State Treasurer staff cannot assign or reset user IDs or passwords for the US Census Bureau website. You must contact the US Census Bureau for any ID, password, or login issues.

Free Training on Water and Sewer Finances – Three Locations!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

SERCAP (Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Inc.) announces its 9th year presenting The Basic Financial Workshops for the Small Rural Communities in North Carolina. SERCAP is nonprofit community technical assistance organization that helps rural communities primarily with infrastructure and community development needs. We are a subsidiary of Rural Community Assistance Partners (RCAP) a nationwide community assistance organization. 

This will be our 9th year providing these FREE workshops for those including elected officials, government managers (both town and county), financial managers/staff, public utility directors and or drinking water and wastewater managers and staff. We have had upward of 20 towns and communities represented at each workshop.

This is a basic financial training class specifically geared toward the drinking water and wastewater programs in your community but will relate to any other enterprise fund you may have. We bring this free training to you! It is not a webinar nor is it a two- or three-day event. The purpose of the workshop is to give you and your staff a general overview of how financial programs...

Post Issuance Compliance Requirements for Tax Exempt Debt Issuance

Monday, February 10, 2020

Arbitrage rebate and yield restrictions aren’t things that most issuers have been concerned about over the past several years – very low investment earnings rates essentially eliminated concern about exceeding any limits on earnings from debt proceeds. Many NC issuers receive advantageous lower bond yields, and interest earnings rates recently have risen where an issuer may be receiving returns approaching or in excess of the related debt yield. It might be a good time to review the requirements for post-issuance compliance for both arbitrage rebate and yield restrictions. 

Issuers are limited to the amount of positive net yield they can earn on tax-exempt debt proceeds; anything over that limit must be paid back or “rebated” to the IRS. For NC issuers, this debt includes not only bonds, but also notes, installment financing agreements, leases, and other forms of debt that require a Form 8038G as part of the closing documents. Rebate requirements are effective at the date of issuance of the debt. Yield restriction rules also limit the amount of net investment income recognized but these rules don’t kick in until a later date, usually three years after the initial debt issuance. Arbitrage rebate and yield restriction calculations are two separate processes and cannot be combined.

Issuers, please...

Changes to the Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act – GS 159-24 and 25 (S.L. 2019-19)

Friday, February 7, 2020

Session Law 2019-19, adopted by the General Assembly during its 2019 session, makes some changes to the Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act, primarily with regard to the duties, responsibilities, and qualifications of the local government finance officer. Specifically, the law does the following:

  • Clarifies that local units must have a finance officer, and that they can contract out almost all responsibilities of the position (responsibility for fulfilling duties still lies with the finance officer) (159-24 and 159-25(a)(9))

    Please note: we are finding during our unit visits and by other means that not all units have an appointed finance officer; that person must be bonded in accordance with GS 159-29(a) [GS 159-42(h) for housing authorities, and GS115C-442 for schools]. Any entity that that is subject to GS 159-24, must have an appointed finance officer in order to disburse funds (GS 159-25(a)(2)) among other responsibilities; schools follow a similar statute – GS 115C-436(a)(3). If your appointed finance officer leaves the organization,...

Training Opportunity for ElectriCities Members

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Photo of Fayetteville Public Works employee at substation working

The 2020 ElectriCities Connections Summit will be held February 18-20 at the Cary Embassy Suites. This is a unique opportunity to gather with colleagues from across the area.

Five tracks are available - Finance & Customer Service, IT, Operations, Management & Workforce - plus some excellent general sessions. The full agenda is available online HERE

The finance & customer service track features the following sessions:

  • Financial Assessment for Sustainability A utility’s overall financial health can help ensure its current and future ability to provide reliable service to customers.
  • The Newest Strategies for Optimizing Collections Customer engagement plays a significant role in collections.
  • What’s in Your Piggy Bank? This session discusses the importance of a formal cash reserve policy and how it can relate to the...

Good News for Units Recovering from Storm Damage!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Operator on phone with computer screen showing approaching hurricane in rain and wind totals expectedThe NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) has launched this year’s NCORR Grants and Loans to Distressed Local Governments programs. NCORR initially established these programs in 2019 to allocate funding appropriated by the General Assembly to assist counties and cities struggling to fund their recoveries from Hurricane Florence. Funding made available in 2020 is available through the grant program for units that were affected by Hurricanes Florence or Dorian.  Funding available through the loan program can be accessed by units recovering from Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, or Dorian or from Tropical Storm Michael.  
 
To be eligible for the grant program, the applicant must be:

  • A county (under G.S. 153A-10) or an incorporated municipality (under G.S. 160A-1(2)) and
  • Designated under...

Local Government Finance Training Available - Hendersonville Area Beginning Jan. 21

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

 

Blue Ridge Community College Logo

Local Government Finance in NC is being offered at Blue Ridge Community College, Flatrock Campus, TEDC 337, starting Tuesday, January 21, 5:45 – 7:45 pm. Classes will run through March 10. Students will learn the basics of local government finance in North Carolina from a very practical perspective in this overview course. This is not a “debit and credit” accounting course, nor does it assume you have a formal accounting education or background. Rather, you will be introduced to the basic job functions that are typically housed in the finance department, with more attention given to those that are found in smaller governments. This course also will tie those functions back to the statutory requirements for all NC local governments, primarily the Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act (G.S. 159 Article 3). 

To register please click here. The course ID is ACC-8120-001. The class fee is $70 and no textbook is required. The instructor is John Buchanan, CPA, Finance Officer for the City of Hendersonville. For more information please contact MC Gaylord at Blue Ridge Community College at...