Local government relief: common-sense solutions for revenue, technology and funding during COVID-19
COVID-19 has rewritten our concept of normalcy and uprooted financial stability for small businesses, essential workers and individual community members alike. When these communities feel confused, afraid and unable to support themselves — they look first to their local leaders for guidance. The pandemic has not spared our counties and municipalities. In fact, 88 percent of U.S. counties have reported budget constraints resulting from the coronavirus upheaval. Of that majority, most have indicated an increase in local expenditures to meet community needs and a decrease in revenue to support these costs.
Local governments are feeling the growing tension to address community health needs, the struggles of local businesses and the pressures of social distancing and tight budgets impacting every economic sector. Many companies have been forced to enact layoffs, furloughs and rounds of early retirement to maintain operations. Understaffed and overburdened, local governments also face the challenges of fielding regulations, enforcing health and safety measures and addressing community questions ranging from taxes, to voting concerns, to available relief resources.
To better serve their communities and ease the fiscal burden of today’s pandemic, local governments can use the following three stratagies to unlock new revenue channels.
Initiating tax and fee audits can help municipalities recover missing revenue and increase financial stability. Is the municipality experiencing residential and commercial growth? What about the annexation of new land parcels or new addresses assignments? An audit can identify issues or concerns under these circumstances, to determine if all taxes and fees are being collected by utility providers, cable companies, the State, and other responsible parties and remitted to local governments.
When conducting any audit, local leaders should first determine what data will be needed from the auditee and other sources. Next, the municipality should issue all required audit notices. After analyzing and comparing the data, the municipality may present its findings and establish actionable steps towards improving fiscal responsibility, accuracy and efficiency.
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