The town of Pikeville, once considered among the most financially troubled government units in North Carolina, has made such an impressive recovery that it soon could regain administrative control of its finances from the state.
Deputy Treasurer Sharon Edmundson, who is director of the Department of State Treasurer's (DST) State and Local Government Finance Division and serves as secretary of the Local Government Commission (LGC), attended a meeting of the Pikeville Town Commission on Monday, Nov. 14, to deliver the good news.
A resolution will be presented at the Dec. 6 meeting of the LGC to relinquish state control and revert financial control to the town. Secretary Edmundson extended an invitation to town officials to attend that meeting in person. If the LGC adopts the resolution, LGC staff currently serving as appointed deputy finance officers would be replaced by town staff, though LGC personnel would continue to provide guidance and oversight to the town.
Pikeville is one of seven government units under the financial control of the LGC, which is staffed by DST employees. The LGC voted to impound the town's books on April 13, 2021. At the time it had only 4.8% of unrestricted available funds to meet its $765,000 budget and was in jeopardy of missing five payments totaling $158,000 of debt.
"I appreciate the hard work of the LGC staff and the town's efforts to coordinate and cooperate on a plan to revive Pikeville,"
Secretary Edmundson said. "This is truly a success story."
State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, chairs the LGC. He said Pikeville officials were able to snap back from dire straits by rolling up their sleeves, putting in the long hours and accepting the guidance and assistance of LGC experts.
"Pikeville officials understood the dilemma they were facing. They channeled their energy into finding out what's right, getting it right and keeping it right. They stepped up to serve taxpayers and residents, safeguard their finances and restore public confidence,"
Treasurer Folwell said. "This extraordinary reversal of fortunes is a testament to their dedication, and evidence that the LGC serves a unique and vital role in guiding local governments toward good governance, transparency and accountability."
Among its successes, Pikeville:
- Completed and submitted fiscal year 2020 and 2021 audits to the LGC, and prepared fiscal year 2022 financial statements for audit.
- Worked with LGC staff over the past two years to apply for and receive over $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act, water and wastewater grants.
- Accepted guidance from LGC staff on the importance of budgeting and timely and accurately maintaining financial accounts.
- Worked diligently and collaboratively with LGC staff to understand the important financial responsibilities of the Town Board and staff, putting the town on a path of fiscal health and effective fiscal management. Staff and elected leaders have attended finance training to help them better understand their fiscal responsibilities.
The LGC, chaired by Treasurer Folwell and staffed by DST, has a statutory duty to approve most debt issued by units of local government and public authorities in the state. The commission examines whether the amount of money units borrow is adequate and reasonable for proposed projects and confirms the governmental units can reasonably afford to repay the debt. It also monitors the financial well-being of more than 1,100 local government units.