Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is Theresa Opeka.
The small town of Robersonville, population 1,249, in Martin County, is once again in charge of its finances, as the state restored financial control to the town at Tuesday's Local Government Commission meeting.
"We have 549 mayors in North Carolina,"
North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell said in a press release. "Mayor [Tina] 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."
The LGC impounded the town's books and assumed control of its financial affairs on Oct. 6, 2020, after the town 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.
Brown became the town's mayor in December 2019.
"When she ran for mayor, she had no idea the town was in the condition it was in,"
Folwell said. "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,"
said Brown. "And this is just the beginning,"
Folwell, who chairs the LGC, presented Brown with a symbolic key to the city during a brief recognition ceremony at Tuesday's meeting.
The town's removal from the list of local governments under the state's financial control continues a slow but positive trend.
Pikeville in Wayne County was the last town to regain complete control over all its finances, in December after 20 months of state control.
"State personnel came in and straightened out all the mess that we created and left us in a wonderful place,"
said Pikeville Mayor Garrett Johnston in a press release issued by the North Carolina State Treasurer's Office in December. "We are a poster child of LGC's success. I would be happy to be a spokesman to any town that's being stubborn about working with the LGC because it's a huge asset."
The LGC voted to impound the town's books on April 13, 2021. At the time, Pikeville 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.
Kingstown in Cleveland County, Cliffside Sanitary District in Rutherford County, Eureka in Wayne County, and Spring Lake in Cumberland County, are the four towns remaining under the financial control of the LGC.