Peterson softens stance on audit report

By: W. Curt Vincent -

ELIZABETHTOWN — Bladen County Chairman Charles Ray Peterson isn’t happy with the way things were handled during the 2015-16 audit report at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Commissioners — and he blames himself.

“I should have done my homework and done a better job,” he said a day after the meeting.

The issue arose when Bryon Scott of the local auditing firm Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams and Company pointed out to the commissioners that there were a few repeat items of concern with9in the audit. Those items generally focused in the areas of internal controls and segregated duties. In short, the audit called into question the staffing numbers within some of the county’s smaller departments where revenues are high, such as the water department.

During the audit presentation by Scott, Peterson voiced his displeasure about there being repeat items of concern in the audit, and told County Manager Greg martin that “there’s no excuse to keep having these …” and added that “we need to find a way to fix it.”

Martin told the board that this particular item had probably been part of the annual audit for as long as 20 years.

However, after having more time to review the audit and thinking about the issue, Peterson said he wished he’d handled the situation better.

“When I think I’ve made a mistake, I try to fix it as soon as I can — and I think I made a mistake with how I handled the issue,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t really understand (the problem) well enough and I’m not sure the rest of the board understands it.

“But nobody in the county is doing anything wrong,” he added. “I really want to stress that point.”

Scott told the board that similar concerns can be found in the audits of many municipalities across the state, but his company was professionally bound not to give solutions to fix the issues.

Commissioner Ray Britt suggested that Martin get with the department heads in those departments in question and ask them to point out the concerns and come up with potential solutions and get back to the board for discussion. Martin agreed and also stated that the county would be doing monthly audits within those smaller departments to better keep a handle on them.

Martin accepted the request and the board unanimously approved the audit report as presented. But Peterson said he would revisit the issue at the next meeting, which will be Monday, Feb. 6, at 6:30 p.m.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.


W. Curt Vincent