The second anniversary of the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, which funded the State and Local Fiscal Relief Fund and provided a historic direct federal Investment to every one of the nation’s local governments, is almost here.
In addition to considering how to use any unallocated funds and celebrating the investments of these dollars, local governments should start preparations to comply with the reporting requirements tied to these funds.
At the end of April, all local governments will have to file a Project & Expenditure report to comply with the receipt of their ARPA funds. Of these government units, more than 26,000 reports are expected to be made by Non-Entitlement Units of Local Government (NEUs), which are what the U.S. Department of the Treasury considers smaller governments.
This deadline may seem daunting for smaller government operations or new staff not familiar with the reporting process. Here are the top five tips from NLC to help you navigate the process.
1. Check whether your city, town, or village took the standard allowance in April 2022.
The standard allowance option allows a city to take up to $10 million, not to exceed the total size of the grant, in lost revenue and use those funds for government services. It provides the most streamlined reporting and is the most flexible expenditure category.
In 2022, the guidance said that cities had to make a one-time, irrevocable decision to take the standard allowance. However, subsequent guidance modified this by saying a city could choose the standard allowance on their next filing—which for most cities is April 2023.
As this is the most flexible expenditure category, it is recommended that your city consider electing to take the standard allowance in 2023 if you did not in 2022.
2. Log in early.
Thousands of cities waited until the last minute to file their Project & Expenditure reports before the last April reporting deadline, which caused a significant delay in troubleshooting any filing questions and access to the portal. The Treasury help centers were flooded with calls and emails from city officials and staff trying to get into the portal. For any number of reasons, many cities had trouble accessing the portal.
One of the challenges cities might face this year is if the people designated in the system as having access to Treasury’s portal are no longer be employed with your city. Ensure you have a designated staff to complete the report and they have proper access to the system, well in advance of the deadline.
3. Use Treasury’s resources.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has resources that can assist local governments learning how to file their Project & Expenditure report. From compliance manuals to YouTube videos, Treasury has tried to make it as easy as possible for cities to comply.
The first resource smaller governments can go to learn more about filing their report is this YouTube video (which has been specifically tailored for NEUs). The video is 42 minutes long, but if you start early, this will be 42 minutes well spent to save you time later.
4. Use Login.gov.
If you are new to the filing process or only did it last year, you might forget where to start.
Login.gov is the website where cities can go to access Treasury’s reporting portal. This helpful step-by-step guide will help elected officials and city staff create credentials for Login.gov.
5. Use the help desks if you get stuck.
In October, Treasury ran out of funding to staff the help desks for the SLFRF program, leaving cities to figure it out on their own. NLC fought hard to get money for the help desks added to the end of the year spending package, which successfully passed Congress and was signed by President Biden.
Now, the help desks are once again operational and ready to help city staff and elected officials file their April reports. If you need to reach a person at the Treasury help desk, you can email SLFRF@treasury.gov or call (844) 529-9527.
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