The coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on the financial stability of municipalities throughout the Commonwealth at a time when local public health and safety services are more vital and in demand than ever. As they face a drop in tax collections and other revenue streams, municipal leaders should know that help is available through Pennsylvania’s Strategic Management Planning Program (SMPP).
Administered by the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services within the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), SMPP was designed as a pre-emptive step for local governments seeking to improve their financial situation and avoid formal classification as a distressed community under Act 47. By enrolling in SMPP, municipalities can receive state funding and support (from a DCED-approved consultant like RKL) in the development and implementation of a multi-year financial management plans. Read on to discover what SMPP could mean for your local government.
Who is eligible for SMPP?
Any Pennsylvania local government or combination of local governments, including counties, cities, boroughs, towns, townships and Home Rule municipalities, are eligible to apply for SMPP funds.
How much funding is available?
SMMP grants of up to $200,000 are available to local governments to cover half of the total development and implementation costs for a financial management and recovery program. SMMP applicants are responsible for providing the other half of total costs.
How does the program work?
Under SMPP, municipalities will work with an independent, DCED-approved financial consultant, like RKL, to prepare a three to five-year financial plan and management review of their municipality. The plan will outline short and long-term financial, managerial and economic development strategies that the municipality can consider implementing to strengthen financial capacity. While every plan developed through SMPP will be customized for the local government unique needs and specific issues, all must adhere to the program’s guiding principles of:
- Expense reduction
- Revenue enhancement
- Implementation of long-term community and economic development strategies to stabilize the tax base
- Adoption of best management practices to achieve operating efficiencies
- pursuit of intergovernmental cost-sharing strategies
Read the program guidelines for more details and information.
How does a local government apply for a grant?
DCED requires all funding applications to be submitted using the Electronic Single Application. Paper applications are no longer accepted. The timeframe to circulate Requests for Proposals to consulting firms is normally three weeks, unless circumstances dictate otherwise. Applicants will be required to submit a range of basic information about the municipality and its leadership, as well as an executed supporting resolution authorizing the submission of the application and committing the resources of the municipality or, in the case of a multi-municipal application, municipalities.
How can RKL help?
RKL’s Public Sector team helps local governments tackle challenges comprehensively and strategically, which is more important than ever during these unprecedented times. Contact your RKL advisor or reach out via the form below with any questions about SMPP or other coronavirus relief measures, or for assistance with business continuity, financial projection and workforce management issues.