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Franklinton untangles fiscal practices

FRANKLINTON -- The head of the town's auditing firm told staff that he would handle bookkeeping matters, personally.

During the board's January meeting, Scott May presented commissioners with an audit that was expected to generate a warning letter from the state regarding the town's fiscal practices.

The audit, performed by May and Place, revealed:

•In the general fund, cultural and recreation expenditures exceeded appropriations by $20,291, capital outlay expenditures exceeded appropriations by $84,090, and debt service expenditures exceeded appropriations by $15,445;

•In the water and sewer fund, the governing body did not budget enough to cover amounts used to pay off several installment purchase contracts from funds received from the sale of water and sewer utilities, resulting in a budget overage of $2,383,382.

Essentially, the audit revealed, the town spent money that had not been appropriated.

Ultimately, those discrepancies, Scott May and town staff said, could have been avoided by timely amendments to the budget.

However, Town Manager Tammy Ray had said the town received spotty bookkeeping services by the firm at critical times during the 2014-15 fiscal year, so the amendments were not recommended or made.

During the board's Feb. 16 meeting, Ray said the town should expect better service as the company's owner, not an employee, would handle the town's bookkeeping.

"I had a final conversation with May and Place and, we have agreed not to part ways," said Ray, referencing remarks made during the January meeting to, perhaps, look at someone else to perform bookkeeping/auditing duties for the town.

"We now have a new bookkeeper and his name is Scott May [the company's owner]," Ray told commissioners. "He's going to handle the books for the town so we don't have any more issues.

"That ... gives me encouragement because when he handled our books, we had no problems," she said. "When his business grew, he got others to handle the books and that didn't work out."

During the January meeting, commissioners talked about the prospects of getting a refund for money they spent on bookkeeping services.

During the February meeting, Ray said she was told by May that while there may not have been a bookkeeper that made a personal visit to the town, more than 300 hours of work was done on the town's behalf.

Commissioner Johnny Wayne Mitchell didn't just want to take May's word for that, though, particularly when the town is looking at the prospect of getting a warning letter from the state regarding the audit when the town asserts it did nothing wrong.

"I want to see the log; I want to see exactly what they did," Mitchell said. "They didn't have a face in this building for six months.

"I would like to see, just throwing it out there, us looking at making some changes, putting [the auditing contract] out to bid.

"... We ain't seen nobody, they billed us for 300 hours. I want details."

The audit has been submitted to the Local Government Commission, Ray said, and the town should hear something in the next few months.


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