The timing couldn’t have been much better. As Thursday’s United Motorcoach Association Town Hall began, more than a dozen operators were reporting they had just received emails alerting them of their CERTS grant amount and instructions.
UMA’s Ken Presley opened the meeting saying, “Just about thirty minutes ago we began getting messages and calls that the CERTS documents started going out with the amount that you’re going to be awarded. As you know, you execute those documents, submit them back to Treasury, and it’s supposed to be around 3-4 days and the money will be direct deposited in your bank account.”
“It’s very exciting to see the relief finally coming,” he said.
The chat room and the following “Overdrive” session reflected many expressions of exuberance.
These first emails are going out about three weeks after the portal closed for accepting applications for the $2 billion COVID-19 relief program for the private passenger transportation sector. While the vetting of applicants and the distribution of funds have moved fairly quickly, the process of getting the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act passed into law and finally launching the application process took considerable time, chiefly because CERTS directed funds to four distinct industries.
The CERTS documents started going out early this afternoon with the amount that will be awarded to each operator, shared Presley, UMA’s Vice President, Legislative & Regulatory Affairs & Industry Relations/COO, at the start of the weekly Town Hall session on Thursday.
The U.S. Treasury indicated in messages to members they would receive their money by direct deposit two to three days after their agreements were electronically signed. Notices advise the initial amount to be deposited in the recipient’s account represents approximately 80% of the award, with the balance or “top-off” to follow once the final eligible applications are determined.
As the welcomed news came during the UMA Town Hall session, attendees were able to take part in a Q&A with CPA Tracy Fickett, who presented and answered questions about how the funds can and cannot be used.
“This is the perfect day to review this,” Presley said.
Grants ‘coming in larger’ than expected
The formula for a company’s allocation is based on year-over-year revenue and losses, said Fickett, who operates BUSBooks, a specialty accounting firm dedicated to the motorcoach industry.
“It seems they are coming in larger than we originally expected, so that’s good because you have a year to spend it,” said Fickett, adding that the funds that aren’t spent correctly can be taken back under the grant’s “claw back” provision.
Grantees will be required to maintain records and submit a number of compliance reports to the Treasury Department.
Presley has advised that it is critical to note that careful attention to expenditures of grant monies must be monitored closely by recipients. Any monies spent outside of the allowable parameters must be refunded to the U.S. Treasury. Grantee and grant information will be disclosed publicly on www.usaspending.gov.
You can watch Fickett’s Q&A presentation from the UMA Town Hall and read her column, What you need to know after your CERTS grant is approved.