BLADENBORO — The town of Bladenboro’s fiscal health was given a thumbs up after a checkup by Bryon Scott, a CPA with the accounting firm of Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams & Co.
On Monday at its regular monthly meeting, board members heard Scott tick off numerous items from an audit of the town’s financial path over the past year, and much of what was heard put smiles on their faces.
“The board and town management is to be commended,” Scott said.
Perhaps the biggest smiles came with the news that the town’s General Fund balance increased over the past year by $210,000.
That is a far cry from the results over much of the previous 10 years.
Between 2006 and 2016, the town’s fund balance increased only four times — and a majority of that was because the town administration sold off town assets, including the former town hall for $224,885; an AllTel cellular tower contract for $114,460; and a U.S. Cellular tower contract for $138,000; along with a $50,648 severance package to outgoing Town Administrator Delane Jackson.
According to a document from the town, the fund balance went down in 2006-07, 2007-08, 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2013-14.
“It’s easy to see when you start looking at all the numbers and what was being sold off — most of which would be a big benefit to the town now — that things weren’t being managed very well,” Mayor Rufus Duckworth, who won re-election earlier this month, said recently. “We have had a lot to clean up.”
Duckworth said he was proud of what he and the current board have been able to accomplish with the town’s finances.
“This increase is larger than any of the increases in any of the eight years before,” he said, “and was done without having to sell any town property.”
If there was a concern pointed out by Scott, it was in the area of water meters. He said there were a number of “dead meters” around town.
“I know you are planning to do a study to find those meters, and it’s important you do that study to find which meters need replacing,” he said. “If you are pumping a million gallons (of water) out of the ground, you need to be getting paid for those million gallons.”
In other action, the board:
— Voted to send First Baptist Church on MLK a bill for repair of the road after a sewer connection. That cost will be $3,660.
— Heard from Don White, president of Boost the ‘Boro, commending the town for its efforts on the recent Beast Festival weekend. He said there were an estimated 4,000 people attending on the Friday night and about 7,000 or 8,000 on Saturday.
— Approved the purchase of four plastic trash cans to be installed in the downtown area. The cost will be just short of $1,000.
— After a closed session, the board approved the hiring of Jonathan Stubbs in the General Maintenance Department and David Edwards as a water lineman on the condition he earn his certificate by June 30, 2018.
Three board members — Cris Harrelson, Patsi Callahan and Sarah Benson — did not attend Monday’s meeting. It was the final meeting for Harrelson, who chose not to run for re-election, and Billy Ray Benson, who was defeated in the Nov. 7 municipal election. New board members starting in December will be Rodney Hester and Greg Sykes.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.