With local government sales tax revenues taking an unprecedented dive due to the coronavirus pandemic, and with counties across North Carolina suffering financially and wondering what they’re going to do, the NC Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) is continuing to use its connections, lobbying might and other influence to make the case that both the state and the federal government need to come to the aid of the counties in a very significant way.
The NCACC collectively represents and lobbies for counties in the state, and NCACC staff spent much of April doing the same thing that the organization did the first weeks of May: work with state and federal partners to make sure there’s a continuation of county operations and services during the very bleak economic times when some counties are in dire circumstances.
Guilford County, for instance, is expected to lose over $10 million of anticipated sales tax revenues in the current fiscal year – and other revenue sources are also experiencing big declines due to the virus and the subsequent economic shutdown.
The federal government is providing North Carolina counties with millions in relief money, however, that money can’t be used to make up revenue shortfalls and there are still a lot of questions as to exactly how it can be used.
On Wednesday, May 6, the NCACC met with county managers in a meeting facilitated by the brand new NC Pandemic Recovery Office, which is part of the NC Office of State Budget and Management. That was the first meeting of the Recovery Office, the NCACC and county managers to discuss county distributions of the massive Coronavirus Relief Fund – part of the federal government’s CARES Act.
On the following day – Thursday, May 7 – NCACC staff held another conference call with county managers across the state. That meeting focused on legislative updates, as well as the discussion of the NC Pandemic Recovery Office guidance on the county distributions that were the subject of the meeting the day before.
Hopefully, these talks will help bring some clarity to Guilford County government and some other state counties. The money is to address the COVID-19 crisis and the counties’ response to it. However, at a Guilford County Board of Commissioners work session earlier this month, it became clear that county staff and commissioners still had a lot of questions.
The NCACC staff announced this week that it’s continuing to monitor state and federal briefings on the subject and it will share important updates with the state’s counties.