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COVID-19 Federal Assistance e311

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Community Engagement & Local Partnerships, Lost Revenue & Revenue Replacement

For purposes of calculating revenue, if the municipality owns an asset but does not report the asset on its books (e.g., zoo or performing arts center), should that revenue be included in its calculation?

The U.S. Department of Treasury (“Treasury”) has not issued specific guidance regarding whether a municipality should include revenues of assets it owns but does not report on its books. Treasury has, however, provided several helpful guidelines which are summarized below.

First, the May 10, 2021 Interim Final Rule (“the Rule”) issued by Treasury defines general revenue “to include revenues collected by a recipient and generated from its underlying economy and would capture a range of different types of tax revenues, as well as other types of revenue that are available to support government services.”[1] Second, Second, Treasury’s Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) state that municipalities may “consider the classification and instructions used to complete Census Bureau’s Annual Survey,” and specify that recipients can consider all Current Charges for the Census Bureau’s Annual Survey as eligible under “General Revenue” under the Rule. [2] 

Under the Annual Survey, a municipality may document the reasons that municipal-owned assets should be included in the revenue replacement calculations for Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. These assets arguably meet the intent of Treasury to focus on revenue sources because they are “generated from economic activity.”[3]

Under the Annual Survey, “current charges” include “[c]harges of publicly owned commercial enterprises not classified elsewhere, such as markets, cement plants, cemeteries, etc.[4]  It further notes that:

“The concept of current charges covers amounts received from the public for performance of specific services which benefit the person charged and from the sale of commodities or services other than utilities and liquor stores. Includes fees, maintenance assessments, and other reimbursements for current services; rents and sales derived from commodities or services furnished incident to the performance of particular functions; gross income of commercial enterprises; and the like. Charges are distinguished from license taxes, which are privileges granted by a government or fees collected to finance regulatory activities.”[5]

Notably, the Annual Survey confirms that the definition of “current charges” includes the “income of commercial enterprises” which might be common revenues from assets owned by a municipality that are unreported. More generally, the Annual Survey lists revenues which are considered “current charges”, and includes zoos, stadiums, auditoriums, and community and convention centers.[6]

Notwithstanding these guidelines, municipalities may want to consider waiting until the issuance of the Final Rule 31 CFR 35.3 prior to calculating revenue.

Last Updated: June 9, 2021

 

[2] U.S. Department of the Treasury, Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds: Frequently Asked Questions (updated May 27, 2021), Q3.9 at 11, https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/SLFRPFAQ.pdf.

[4] U.S. Bureau of the Census, Government Finance and Employment Classification Manual, 4-32, https://www2.census.gov/govs/pubs/classification/2006_classification_manual.pdf

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at 4-35.