What Local Governments Should Know About Reporting CARES Act Funds
by Brenda Davitt
Since late June, Minnesota cities, counties, and townships have been busy certifying their eligibility to receive federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) distributions. The fund, which was created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, includes $841.5 million for Minnesota local governments. For many entities, it has provided much-needed economic relief—or at least a bridge to next year’s budget.
At the same time, however, the fund has also created a significant amount of confusion. Federal and state guidance on how CRF distributions may be used is lacking, and the short spending timeframe (eligible dollars must be spent by November 15) is somewhat confounding, particularly for cities that have received multi-million-dollar sums.
And now, as we move into August, local governments must also pay attention to an important Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) reporting requirement: All local governments that received CARES Act funds must submit a Monthly Expenditure Report for Local Governments to MBB by the applicable deadline.
· If your organization received CARES Act funds in its checking account prior to July 29, you must submit a July expenditure report to MMB by August 11.
· If your organization received CARES Act funds in its checking account on or after July 29, you do not have to submit a July expenditure report; however, you must submit an August expenditure report by September 9.
Here’s what all Minnesota local governments should know about this MMB reporting requirement.
If you haven’t spent any of your CARES Act funds, you must still submit an expenditure report. If your organization is in this boat, be sure to fill out the expenditure report (simply fill in all zeros) and submit it to MMB by the appropriate deadline.
You only need to submit the expenditure report to MMB and not the federal government. Each state is charged with tracking how its local governments are spending CARES Act funds. In other words, you don’t need to do anything on the federal website—you only need to submit the expenditure report to MMB.
The state will track the reports only by the SWIFT Supplier ID number. You should have applied for a SWIFT Supplier ID when you registered for CARES Act funds. This is the only identifying number you need to include on the form.
The state will publish reports each month to show local CARES Act fund spending. These reports will also include a list of local governments that reported their spending as well as those that did not. Be prepared for significant media attention on these reports and on how the funding is being allocated.
Reporting requirements may change. We expect additional federal guidance to become available in the near future, which could affect reporting requirements.
Final narrative reports on the justification of allocations may be requested. This would happen down the road—i.e., once funds have been spent, likely near the end of the year. Although guidance on eligible expenditures is vague, it’s important to be sure your organization’s use of CARES Act funds is in line with the federal criteria.
Questions about the expenditure report? Contact your local government association.
Assistant Director of Finance-Outreach
League of Minnesota Cities
League of Minnesota Cities
Director, COVID-19 Response Accountability Office
Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB)
Association of MN Counties
Minnesota Association of Townships
Looking for assistance with the expenditure report? We can help.
If you have questions about the MMB expenditure report or would like assistance in preparing yours, contact us today. We can help you fill it out accurately and completely, so you can submit it before the deadline. To get started, contact us today.
For more about eligible and ineligible uses of CARES Act funds, including frequently asked questions, read up on this helpful guide prepared by the Association of Minnesota Counties and the Minnesota Inter-County Association.
Brenda Davitt is the Client Services Senior Supervisor for AEM Financial Solutions group. She has over 30 years of governmental accounting and experience in long-range utility rate studies, capital improvement, debt management, and financial analysis plans. .
You can reach Brenda at 952.939.3210 or click here to contact her via email.
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