• New Bern gets OK for $10 million installment purchase for Stanley White Recreation Center
  • Belhaven gets funds for police vehicle, three work trucks

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — The Local Government Commission has turned over financial control of the Town of Robersonville, officials said on Wednesday.

Robersonville Mayor Tina Brown and other town officials were at the Local Government Commission meeting on Tuesday, during which commission members voted to remove Robersonville from the list of local government units under their financial control and return bookkeeping and fiscal affairs to town staff. State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, who chairs the LGC, presented Brown with a symbolic key to the city during a brief recognition ceremony. 

Robersonville, a town of about 1,300 residents, experienced governance and financial problems in recent years. It had failed to submit two consecutive annual audits as required, did not maintain an accounting system to detail assets, liabilities, revenues and expenditures, didn’t comply with generally accepted principles of government accounting and didn’t create a plan to remedy the issues.  

The LGC exercised its statutory authority to impound the town’s books and assume control of its financial affairs on Oct. 6, 2020. The commission, which is staffed by the Department of State Treasurer personnel, went to work immediately with town officials on an action plan to correct the deficiencies. On Tuesday, the efforts paid off when the state relinquished control of the town’s books. 

“We have 549 mayors in North Carolina. Mayor Brown stands out because she came before the commission in 2020 and thanked the LGC staff for making a difficult choice that was in the best interest of her town and her constituents. We never want to assume financial control of a town, and don’t take that decision lightly. But we are blessed with great staff that can step in immediately to fix broken systems,” Folwell said.  

“When she ran for mayor, she had no idea the town was in the condition it was in. Through tough choices, discipline and communication with our staff, she and other town officials reversed course. They determined what was right, how to get it right, and are now on course to keep it right.” 

“We weren’t expecting to have to surrender our town to the state, but I am glad that we went through what we went through because it makes us better and stronger, and it just shows that we are resilient. And this is just the beginning,” Brown said. Town officials are excited to resume authority over their affairs, “as much as we love you guys and we appreciate everything,” she said. 

“This doesn’t mean we’re just walking away,” said Deputy Treasurer Sharon Edmundson, who heads DST’s State and Local Government Finance Division. “We will still be available for consultation and assistance when needed, and we will check in with them regularly.” The LGC staff provided the town with a checklist of to-do items over the next six months to a year.  

Some of the other financing items included:

  • New Bern (Craven County) got the OK for a $10 million installment purchase to build a new Stanley White Recreation Center, and a separate revenue bond of $6.1 million for sewer system infrastructure. An installment purchase allows for repayment over time, instead of paying all debt cost up front. 
  • Middlesex (Nash County) won approval of $839,000 for rehabilitation of its wastewater collection system. No tax increase is anticipated. 

Two towns on the Unit Assistance List due to late audits and other concerns came before the commission with requests to fund vehicle purchases. Staff said both were making progress and showed the need for the financing: 

  • Roxboro (Person County) received LGC assent for $544,000 to replace a 22-year-old fire truck that must be taken out of service in three years. The town will enter into a long-term installment purchase, and be reimbursed with financing from Piedmont Electric Membership Corporation. The replacement will allow the town to avoid higher insurance rates. 
  • The town of Belhaven (Beaufort County), was granted the go-ahead to purchase one police vehicle and three work trucks through a $160,000 installment purchase. The town’s aging vehicle fleet ranges from 6 to 29 years, and cost $40,000 in repairs over the past year. No tax increase is anticipated.