With the announcement of the Coronavirus Relief Fund, CARES Act assistance from the federal government, David Sanko, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors made this insightful statement, “spend it wisely, not fast.” Elected officials have a real challenge to decide how this money can provide a long-term positive impact on their respective municipalities. Are you able to deliver a program that can demonstrate a meaningful improvement to your community in a five-to-ten-year timeframe?
No doubt you, like your colleagues, have lots of questions about this windfall of unexpected funds. In order to be assured that you are spending by the rules and making good choices for your community, you should seriously consider reaching out to experienced professionals to assist. With the accompanying audit that will inevitably be required, you can rest easy knowing you have met the four-year spending time limit and allocated the two disbursements in an appropriate and effective manner.
In simple terms, when spending taxpayer dollars you must play by the rules. Not only is the federal government watching and holding you accountable, but your constituents will be monitoring your actions too. It is important that you look at your current financial status and determine what your cash reserves are. Tossing this money at current shortfalls in order to quickly balance your budget isn’t planning for the future; you are merely placing a bandage on a much deeper wound that will still remain infected. If the elected board devotes this money to programs that can only continue operations based on future subsidies, you have set yourself up for failure in the long-term. If you cannot operate a program or service without this one-time infusion of funds, then it clearly is not sustainable in the long run. Spending these dollars on unsustainable programs would just be kicking the can down the road.
Using these funds to truly implement long-term, sustainable results with a lasting impact shows leadership and dedication to your communities. James W. Frick wrote “don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are”.
At Keystone Municipal Solutions, we have a team of experienced, dedicated professionals who can help guide you as you develop a plan for wisely and responsibly investing CARES Act funds in your community’s long-term future. Now is the time to map out a financial plan for your municipality.
You can lead. And we can help.
Now… Let’s fire this thing up!
About the Author
David L. Anthony is a member of the Keystone Municipal Solutions team of experts. He is a veteran of municipal government, having served more than 32 years in various positions of public service. Contact him at email@example.com. To learn more about David and the Keystone Municipal Solutions team, click here.