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 ARPA funds and the impacts of COVID-19, visit our Local Government ARPA Resources page.

ARPA Resources

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.

ARPA Pre-Award Guidance

Monday, April 19, 2021

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has issued pre-award guidance for state and local governments with regard to American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.  Please refer to their webpage for details.

Free HR Training Available from SERCAP

Monday, April 12, 2021

This course is currently full. Please see this blog post for details on a second section being offered on June 2.

SERCAP is offering a virtual HR training course for local government leaders and staff on April 20 from 8 AM to 1 PM.  For more information please see the agenda and registration form.

Free HR Training Available from SERCAP - June 2, 2021

Monday, April 12, 2021

SERCAP is offering a virtual HR training course for local government leaders and staff on June 2 from 8 AM to 1 PM.  For more information please see the agenda and registration form.

...

GASB 87 (Leases) Course

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The UNC School of Government and LGC staff are pleased to offer a virtual course:  Leases – Implementation of GASB Statement 87. The two-day course will be held from 10am-12pm on Tuesday May 18 and Thursday May 20.

Please click here for more information and to register for the course. 

Free Training on Tax Treatment of Fringe Benefits

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division of the IRS is offering a free webinar on Taxable Fringe Benefits. Please see the announcement below from the FSLG Newsletter:

The Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division would like to invite you to register to watch the free Taxable Fringe Benefit Essentials for Employers Webinar on April 14, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. (ET).

This webinar is designed to explain what a fringe benefit is and how to value a fringe benefit. It will cover the most common fringe benefits and explain if those fringe benefits are taxable.

For more information, see...

SERCAP Water and Wastewater Financial Management Workshops

Friday, February 26, 2021

Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project logoThe Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (SERCAP) is offering two regional workshops addressing water and wastewater utility finance. See the agenda and registration information for details, but be sure to register soon – workshops are scheduled for March 4 and April 6, 2021. Please note these are FREE workshops and both will be virtual, one-day events. Speakers include representatives from RCAP, USDA, DEQ, and the LGC.

If you have questions, please contact SERCAP at the numbers noted on the registration form, or contact us at slgfd@nctreasurer.com.

GASB Financial Reporting Model Project Documents

Friday, February 19, 2021

LGC staff are developing responses to the GASB Board related to the four GASB financial reporting model project documents located at https://www.gasb.org/exposure-documents. If you are a NC local government or a firm that audits NC local governments and are submitting comments to GASB on these reporting model documents, please share your comments to GASB with our staff. Our staff will do the same. Mutual understanding of our concerns may help us all develop improved responses so that the guidance works better for North Carolina.

These documents represent pervasive guidance that will impact you and your governing boards significantly. The LGC staff urges you to spend some time with the exposure drafts and preliminary views document and add your voice to the conversation by providing your comments to GASB. If you wish to share the comments you submit to GASB with LGC staff, please forward them to eric.faust@nctreasurer.com. Thank you in advance for your efforts and your input.