As most know, Congress passed the Cares Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides the obvious health issues and concerns, this pandemic effected a significant negative economic impact on our country and State. Citizens, businesses and governments have experienced increased costs and/or significant revenue shortfalls due to unemployment, business closures and decreased tax revenue bases. The Cares Act directs 2 trillion dollars in federal relief to a broad range of individuals, businesses and governments. Our office, in the capacity of chief inspector for local governments, has received many questions and listened to many concerns from local governments. Therefore, we have provided this resource page for local governments and auditors to assist in navigating the difficult time ahead and we are also providing some answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ).
What kind of financial relief has the federal government provided to local governments for the COVID-19 pandemic?
Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides the obvious health issues and concerns, this pandemic caused a significant negative economic impact on our country and State. Citizens, businesses, and governments have experienced increased costs and/or significant revenue shortfalls due to unemployment, business closures, and decreased tax revenue bases. The Cares Act directs $2 trillion in federal relief to a broad range of individuals, businesses and governments. A full text version of the federal CARES Act is available at: www.congress.gov.
How much Cares Act was received in WV for governments?
The largest allocation received in the State was through the Coronavirus Relief Fund which is administered by the US Department of the Treasury. 150 billion was allocated with WV’s share being 1.25 billion. These funds are to be used for grants to State and Local governments for necessary expenditures incurred due to COVID-19 from March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Specific guidance issued by the Department of Treasury may be located at Relief Fund Guidance. Frequently asked questions may be located at Coronavirus Relief Fund FAQ.
How do local governments in West Virginia apply for a grant from the Coronavirus Relief Fund?
The Governor’s Office is the primary recipient of the 1.25 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund Grant. They have established a local government grant application portal at grants.wv.gov. General assistance with the grant application process may be sent to GrantHelp@wv.gov. The site also contains information to apply directly to the federal government for other types of COVID-19 related grants.
Can Coronavirus Relief Funds grants be utilized to offset revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic?
Current guidance issued by the Department of the Treasury says no. This is a hotly debated national topic as governments struggle to make up for revenue shortfalls.
What other types of grant funding are available to local governments in the State?
The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) has provided a useful overview of Cares Act Funding at Cares Act Summary
Many of these grants have been or will be received from a WV State agency. We will provide information as it becomes available. There may also be opportunities for local governments to apply for COVID-19 related grants directly with the federal agency administering the program.
You may be eligible for additional funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance grant program. Information on what expenditures may potentially be available is on the www.wvsao.gov COVID-19 resources page. We have also included information on how to navigate the FEMA grants portal.
Please note that our office does not administer or control FEMA grants. For assistance, you will need to contact the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security. The Department maintains an e-mail address to contact the Public Assistance grant team: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What federal programs related to the CARES Act will be subject to federal single audit requirements?
The AICPA Governmental Audit Quality Control Center (GAQC) has issued non-authoritative guidance in the form of a matrix that can be accessed (GAQC summary of applicability of coronavirus related fed programs) on this page under the CID division.
How should COVID-19 related costs be tracked in our accounting system?
Most grants received by local governments will be reimbursement type grants. Normally the local government would need to provide sufficient documentation to receive reimbursement but this is at the discretion of the federal or state agency making the grant. Features may be enacted in the software system to segregate these eligible costs. Alternatively, the WVSAO has also prepared and provided local governments an excel spreadsheet (COVID 19 Revenue and Expense Tracking) for tracking these costs. The spreadsheet also contains functionality for tracking revenue losses. While these are currently not eligible for reimbursement under the CARES Act, future assistance or revised guidance may make the revenue shortfalls eligible.
Will the financial statement publication requirement be eased for the upcoming year?
Currently most local governments must publicize their annual financial statement within 90 to 120 days after the end of the fiscal year depending on size and/or type of government. These requirements are set statutorily and at the date of this memorandum remain in effect.
Will the audit of our local government be delayed?
CID staff will continue to work on audits remotely when possible. While it is difficult to ascertain what delays may be present in the future we are making every effort to continue engaging and completing audits during this pandemic if governments are willing to do so. CPA firm’s assigned contracts by CID have been granted automatic extensions on all contracts through September 25, 2020. Delays will be contingent on the individual firm’s workload and processes through the pandemic. A copy of this guidance is available at this website under CID Memo 20-02– Further Guidance for Audit Extension Related to COVID-19.
If our government expends over $750,000 in federal grants during the FYE 6/30/20 and/or 6/30/21 when will our audit deadline be?
Will the State Auditor’s Office be providing annual training and/or additional training/resources related to COVID-19?
The annual Governmental Accounting and Auditing Conference normally held in May or June has been postponed until at least September. Additional details are outlined in CID Memo 20-04 – Governmental Accounting and Auditing Conference. There are power point presentations available at the WVSAO COVID-19 web page related to COVID-19 concerns for local governments and FEMA grant instructions. Questions may be submitted to email@example.com. Additional resources will be provided as available.
What is the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) doing to relieve the financial reporting burden on governments during this pandemic?
What guidance is present related to Opens Meeting Act during this pandemic?
The WV Ethics Commission has addressed this and that information is available at ethics.wv.gov.