More than $100M in financing requests approved by state’s Local Government Commission 

State Treasurer Dale Folwell

RALEIGH — The state’s Local Government Commission (LGC) approved more than $100 million in financing requests from local governments at its May 2 meeting. 

The LGC is a statutorily enacted body that examines the spending and debt capacity of more than 1,100 local government units in North Carolina. The LGC is chaired by State Treasurer Dale Folwell and staffed by the Department of State Treasurer (DST). 

Approval was given to Washington County for a $20.5 million installment purchase of a consolidated pre-K through 12 campus located in Plymouth. Under the purchase plan, partial payments can be made over time and the county will increase taxes by 4 cents per $100 property valuation to offset costs.  

“This state-of-the-art campus will serve 1,000 students from across the county. This is a low-wealth county, and families deserve to send their children to a school offering the best educational opportunities regardless of their ZIP code,” said Folwell. “This vote by LGC members helps to make that goal a reality.” 

Projects receiving LGC approval include: 

  • Forsyth County — $ 29.2 million in “two-thirds bonds” was approved for education and parks and recreation projects. Some of the funds will be for capital improvement projects at K-12 schools and community college projects 
  • Lee County — $7.7 million in limited obligation bonds was approved for a new truck driver training facility and refinancing an existing agreement to buy 22 acres of land and existing facilities for use by Central Carolina Community College. 
  • Wayne County — $40 million to build and equip a combined Department of Social Services and Health Department building. 
  • Hendersonville — $6.4 million to renovate and improve City Hall and the City Operations Center, and to perform streetscape enhancements. 
  • Knightdale — $3.7 million to build a 10,000-square-foot fire station, scheduled to open in August, and purchase two pumper trucks. 
  • Beech Mountain — $550,000 to renovate the Town Hall and Visitor Center buildings and connect them with an addition. 

The LGC also approved seven requests for water and sewer infrastructure financing.  

  • Raleigh — $215 million in bond anticipation notes to perform multiple water and sewer capital improvement projects. The financing is a short-term security that generates interest to help pay for upcoming projects and is paid off later with a larger, future bond. 
  • Henderson (Vance County) — $15.3 million to expand and update the Kerr Lake Regional Water System. 
  • Eden (Rockingham County) — $14.6 million for replacing lines, manholes and other improvements. 
  • La Grange (Lenoir County) — $13.5 million to install lines, replace equipment, add two wells and enhance water distribution, among other improvements. 
  • Hendersonville (Henderson County) — $8.4 million to replace water and sewer mains and pump stations, replace water meters and other work. 
  • Murphy (Cherokee County) — $900,000, to replace 100-year-old water lines. 
  • Moore County — $756,000 to extend sewer lines. 

The City of Wilmington staff and elected officials also presented plans to the LGC for a $68 million purchase of the Thermo Fisher Building in the city’s downtown area.  

Deputy Treasurer Sharon Edmundson, the LGC secretary and director of DST’s State and Local Government Finance Division, updated LGC members on Elizabeth City’s missing 2022 audit. She said the city only recently submitted its 2021 audit.  

Statements for the city showed an available general fund balance of only 13.5%. According to the press statement from Folwell’s office, that balance is low for a city with similar general fund expenditures, and it has only enough savings to pay for a little more than one month of spending. 

The 2021 audit identified substantial issues, such as 13 material weaknesses in internal controls and financial processes that included a failure to properly account for capital assets and projects as well as overbilling the Coast Guard by more than a half-million dollars for water and sewer fees that the city also failed to report as payable.  

The findings also showed management didn’t review compensated vacation absences, resulting in some retired employees still accruing vacation time and some current employees being incorrectly excluded from compensation figures.  

Additionally, beginning fund balances for 2021 didn’t match 2020 ending balances in some accounts, and certain procurements were not in compliance with state law and the city’s policies. The City Council apparently was not receiving regular financial reports and many meetings were missing approved meeting minutes reports.  

LGC members took no action at the May 2 meeting but did discuss Elizabeth City’s situation and what needs to happen to correct the situation.  

About A.P. Dillon 983 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_