In response to COVID-19, the Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) issued Local Finance Notice 2020-07 (LFN) providing emergency budget, levy cap exemption, tax bill and depositing funds guidance. Portions of the LFN are highlighted below.
Budget Introduction Deadline extended from March 29, 2020, to April 28, 2020, or the next regularly scheduled meeting after April 28, 2020.
Budget Adoption Deadline extended from April 30, 2020, to May 30, 2020 or the next regularly scheduled meeting after May 30, 2020.
Public Inspections of Budgets
To meet the statutory requirement for public inspection of the budget prior to the public hearing, the local unit must post the introduced budget on their website no later than the date of the public notice. The budget advertisement must include the web address where the public can access the introduced budget. Municipalities without websites can email their introduced budgets to the Division at email@example.com for posting on the Division’s website. Please see the complete LFN for additional submission requirements.
Public Hearing Requirements
For budget hearings held by electronic meeting, the local unit must facilitate public comment during the public hearing. The budget advertisement must include information on how the public can remotely access the governing body meeting and provide comment during the meeting.
In addition to the public notice in the newspaper, the Division is strongly recommending that local units post their budget advertisement on their website and notify residents of the public hearing through other electronic means, for example, email distribution list or automated phone or text message. In addition, the budget should be read in full, rather than by title, at the hearing if public restrictions have made physical inspection and mailing of the budget impracticable.
Expenditures resulting from a state of emergency are treated as an exception to the appropriations cap, the 1977 county levy cap, and the 2010 levy cap (2% cap) law. Regulations state that the 2% levy cap exception for state of emergency is only available for “extraordinary cost” incurred for the immediate preparation, response, recovery, and restoration of public service. Therefore, only the portion of costs exceeding the cost of providing services under non-emergency conditions may be granted as an exemption to the 2% levy cap.
The Division is strongly recommending that municipalities prepare to issue estimated property tax bills for 2020 in light of the disruption caused by COVID-19. As a reminder, estimated tax bills must be mailed to property owners no later than June 30th and the governing body must adopt a resolution authorizing the estimated tax bills.
We strongly recommend you review this Local Finance Notice with your Chief Financial Officer, Tax Collector, and Administrator.
Contact: Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481 x112.