On June 30 and July 1, local pandemic recovery stakeholders across the state came together to present “American Rescue Plan Act: Regional Informational Sessions for Local Government.” Besides reviewing Governor Roy Cooper’s proposed ARP budget, speakers provided information on varying topics about ARP funding. The topics ranged from basic information about allowable uses to accounting, audit, reporting and compliance. Here are some key takeaways from Kara Millonzi and Gregory Allison from UNC Chapel Hill School of Government and Sharon Edmundson from the N.C. Department of State Treasury:
- The Board or Council must vote to accept ARP Funds in an official meeting and appoint an official or employee to take all required actions to receive monies or adopt a resolution.
- Though Federal guidance shows an expenditure as allowable, make sure to also have State permission to use money in certain cases.
- After depositing money in an official depository, you may co-mingle with other local government monies.
- Units may use investment proceeds from ARP funds for any public purpose authorized by state law that covers both capital and operating funding for the life of the grant.
- Units that do not plan to obligate these funds on or before June 30, 2021, can likely get by without amending their 2021 budgets.
- Units may want to consider budgeting funds in a Grant Ordinance, allowed by G.S. 159-13.2.
- All units that are receiving ARP funds must ensure that the funds are included in a budget in the year(s) they will be obligated. Budgets must be in place before the funds are obligated!
- Recommended options for budgeting ARPA funds.
- Special Revenue Grant Fund
- Capital Project Fund
- Enterprise Fund
- Highly recommend not budgeting in the General Fund and be careful about putting funds in a Capital Reserve Fund due to restrictions.
- Yellow Book requirements may be problematic for small governments that do not normally fall under Yellow Book standards; auditors are more limited as to non-audit services they can provide for a Yellow Book audit
One important, additional piece of advice during this segment was to “wait, be patient and thoughtful.” Advice that was also emphasized by Lee Worsley, the Chair of the N.C. Association of Regional Councils. He also said, “The purpose of all 16 regional councils is to serve municipal and county local governments especially when there are opportunities for regional collaboration or opportunities for us to provide technical assistance to our local governments with programs and with projects.” As you begin to strategize about spending ARP funds, feel free to reach out to Centralina Regional Council with special technical help in several areas that may provide a necessary regional perspective.